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IT IS RIGHT TO REBEL 

Edited by Michael Hyde 



THE DIPLOMAT - CANBERRA 












Copyright © Michael D. Hyde, 1972. 
All rights reserved. 

First published by The Diplomat, 1972. 

National Library of Australia registry 
number and ISBN: 09098 5220 0. 

THE DIPLOMAT SERIES are published 
in Australia by Free Association Press, 
Marrickville, New South Wales, 2204. 

Typesetting by Feilder & West/Bromide 
Services, Wright Street, Adelaide, 5000. 

Printed in Australia by Waverly Offset 
Printers, Geddes Street, Mulgrave, 3170. 


Cover photograph by courtesy 
of "THE AGE* 


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‘Marxism consists of thousands of truths, but they all boil 
down to one sentence, “it is right to rebel”! For thousands 
of years, it has been said that it was right to oppress, it 
was right to exploit and it was wrong to rebel. This old 
verdict was only reversed with the appearance of Marxism. 
. . . And from this truth there follows resistance, struggle, 
the fight for socialism.’ 

MAO TSE TUNG 


The streets of our country are in turmoil, the universities 
are filled with students rioting and rebelling; communists 
are seeking to destroy our country ... we need law and 
order . . . yes . . . without law and order the republic will 
fall. Elect us and we shall restore law and order* 

ADOLF HITLER, 
Hamburg, 1932. 






I 


FOREWORD 

This book was written by students involved in the 
conflicts at Monash University over the past five years. It 
is the history of politically important struggles. But unlike 
most other ‘histories’ it has not been written by the 
sensationalist press, by stale academics or by vested politi¬ 
cal or administrative demagogues. It has been written 
instead by the students themselves. 

Most impressions of Monash University are probably 
based on newspaper, radio and television reports. You 
will find a very different viewpoint expressed in these 
articles. The techniques of press manipulation of public 
opinion are very subtle and radical views are usually only 
promulgated in leaflets and speeches. Press distortion is 
carried out by the handful of monopolies who control the 
media and have a vested interest in maintaining the 
capitalist system. Anyone who rebels against the Establish¬ 
ment is attacked by these press barons, be they students. 


1 








Women’s Liberationists, S.E.C. workers, postal workers, 
water-side workers, builder’s labourers, or whatever, 
i Newspaper editors ridicule and denigrate students as rat¬ 
bags ‘wasting taxpayer’s money’, in an attempt to divide 
radical students from the rest of the community. However 
radical students are rebelling against the same enemies, the 
same injustices, the same repression as are other sections 
j of the community and they are beginning to unite with 
1 > other militants despite these press attacks. 


Conflicts exist at Monash fundamentally because 
students are progressive and concerned about important 
social and political issues such as the war in Indo-China, 
racism and imperialism, whereas the University administra¬ 
tion is conservative and reactionary, concerned only with 
the distribution of millions of dollars of tax-payers’ money 
in order to ‘educate’ students to serve the exploiting 
minority in society. Students radicalized by the U.S. war of 
aggression in Vietnam and by their experience in fighting 
against this and other injustices are beginning to reject 
capitalism. They do not want to be trained as obedient 
servants of the status-quo, the ‘brains of capitalism’. Uni¬ 
versity administrations have acted to crush this student 
rebellion, and the sharpest conflicts have occurred over 
the ‘disciplining’ of left-wing students. 

r It is from these conflicts with the administration at 
\Monash that students have come to analyse the role of 
jthe university in society. They have concluded that it 
'/exists to perpetuate a class society in which the vast 
/majority of the population is exploited by a wealthy 
minority. Many students now take the stand that their 
struggles are struggles in common with those of the working 
class against exploitation. The history of the Monash 
students’ struggle is one of increasing support for the 
radicals while the administration is supported by a 
dwindling minority. 

This, then, is our side of the story. We make no 
pretence that it is an ‘objective’ account. There can be no 
objective account in this, for as in all histories which are 
about politics there are different vantage points. But we 
have written an honest account and we have given our 
interpretation and recording of events and feelings. 


2 


Our book is the product of work by many different 
authors and editors as well as many others who assisted 
with typing and research and in other ways. Some chapters 
were written jointly and others separately. In some places, 
differences have been compromised in order to produce a 
consensus account. In other cases, the diverse approaches 
of the authors can be seen in the way that different 
chapters have been written differently. None of the authors 
accept all the interpretations and analyses that are included 
in this book. Nor would we expect the reader to do so. 
Perhaps an ‘authoritative’ account of events at Monash 
will have to wait until after the revolution, when a clearer 
perspective can be gained, and when not only can some 
details of internal wrangling among the left that have 
been left out, be revealed, but also the records of internal 
argumentation within the University Administration will be 
available for public inspection. 

In the meantime, this book represents a first attempt in 
Australia to describe student struggles, in a way that allows 
the lessons of those struggles to be summed up and used 
to carry the movement forward. 

There is one common theme on which all the authors, 
despite any disagreements, agree. It runs through the whole 
book because it runs through the whole struggle at Monash 
and indeed elsewhere in Australia and the world: 

We assert that it is right to rebel, that it is right to 
struggle for a better society; for a socialist society. 

M.D.H., 1972. 


3 













Beginnings 


To understand the radicalization of Monash University 
and the role played by the Labor Club in the late sixties, 
and early seventies one has to go back in time even 
before the establishment of Monash. Labor Clubs were 
formed at the major Australian Universities in the 1920s. 
Their period of greatest activism and influence was in the 
post-war period, when Melbourne and Sydney Labor Clubs 
were led by Communist Party members. The Universities 
were reflecting the world-wide upsurge of militancy in the 
working-class in the first few years after the war. Then 
capitalism reacted to the spread of revolution in Asia and 
working-class militancy in the West, and began the ‘Cold 
War\ This too had its reflection in the University. In both 
Melbourne and Sydney, the Labor Clubs were split and 
A.L.P. Clubs were established. These A.L.P. Clubs had 
rules barring Communists from memberships and at the 
beginning were under the supervision of the State Labor 
Parties. At Melbourne from the middle fifties onwards, 
Cold War conditions were aggravated by the presence of 


5 













Dr. Knopfelmacher, a Psychology lecturer, Czecho¬ 
slovakian ex-Communist and Cold Warrior par excellence. 

By 1961, under the influence of the American Civil 
Rights campaigns, the academic liberalism encouraged by 
the Kennedy regime in America which found an echo in 
Australian academia, and the Campaign for Nuclear Dis¬ 
armament (C.N.D.) in England, a tame form of activism 
had returned to the Universities. The Melbourne A.L.P. 
Club fought a small campaign against the White Australia 
Policy, placing it in a pre-eminent position in Victorian 
Student politics. The Melbourne Labor Club was intimi¬ 
dated by Dr. Knopfelmacher's witch-hunting in the early 
sixties, while the more activist A.L.P. Club was at odds 
with the Left-wing State A.L.P. Leadership. The influence 
of Knopfelmacher and his D.L.P. oriented student fol¬ 
lowing grew from 1961 till the A.L.P. Club split in 1964. 

It wal the Melbourne A.L.P. Club that helped establish 
the Monash Labor Club and moulded it in its own Whit- 
lamite image. Up until the beginning of 1968, more than 
a year after the Monash Labor Club had opted for a 
revolutionary position, it still carried a clause in its Consti¬ 
tution, inserted by its right-wing founders, barring members 
of ‘parties other than the A.L.P.’, i.e. Communists, from 
Labor Club membership. In 1962, the Secretary of the 
Labor Club sent letters inviting guest speakers which 
carefully assured them that the Labor Club had nothing in 
common with the Melbourne Labor Club, but rather 
‘identified with the Melbourne A.L.P. Club’. Throughout 
the period of 1961-65, the leadership of the Monash 
Labor Club was strongly in support of the right-wing 
opposition inside the Victorian A.L.P. working fairly 
closely with the Fabian Society. 

In the pre-Vietnam period, the only real period of 
student activism was in 1963 when a student anti-hanging 
committee, much stronger at Melbourne than at Monash, 
mobilized strong opposition to the proposed execution of 
Tait. Otherwise the main activities of student political 
clubs were meetings with speakers and conferences, and, 
at other Universities, faction-fighting. In 1964, the Mel¬ 
bourne A.L.P. Club was split between ‘Groupers’ and 
Fabians, and at Sydney the A.L.P. Club was split into 
Trotskyites and Fabians. Many of the splits took place at 


6 


the annual conference of the Australian Student Labor 
Federation in 1964. Judging by comments made by 
Monash Labor Club leaders some twelve months later, 
the concept of political factions fighting over political 
theory bewildered the parliamentary-oriented comrades at 
Monash. 

Monash itself was characterized by a youthful, carefree 
atmosphere. Students were free of the stifling traditions of 
older universities and the small size of the student popula¬ 
tion enabled ideas to be disseminated readily, rather than 
swallowed by a massive bureaucracy. The best known 
‘radical’ was not even a member of the Labor Club. Pete 
Steedman, whose reputation for radicalism was based on 
some attacks he made on the League of Rights and his 
individual eccentricities of speech and dress, was active on 
the Students Representative Council (S.R.C.) and he edited 
Lot's Wife in 1965-66. Although his own politics were 
middle-class nihilist, he did play a significant role in the 
radicalization at Monash, possibly in spite of himself. As 
editor of Lot's Wife he published a considerable amount 
of material, often from overseas sources, critical of the 
Vietnam War and presenting progressive views on historical 
issues such as the Spanish Civil War. His newspaper drew 
a concerted attack from the D.L.P. inside Monash and the 
Knopfelmacher push outside, and the resultant contro¬ 
versies created the closest thing Monash had yet seen to 
a political atmosphere. 

The attacks on Steedman were linked to attacks from 
the same sources on the Monash Soviet. These were aimed 
at so-called left-wing academics. The D.L.P. claimed that 
a secret conspiracy which they called the Monash Soviet 
was spreading subversive ideas among the students and, 
to a large extent, running the place. According to the 
National Civic Council, Politics Professor Rufus Davis was 
running a department full of Communists, who were brain¬ 
washing students. The attacks were based on fairly moder¬ 
ate criticism made by staff members about the Vietnam 
War, and The^dmission of Rex Mortimer (then a member 
of the Communist Party of Australia) to post-graduate 
studies. Max Teichman was singled out for special attack. 
Several years later, the Labor Club was attacking Davis, 
with much better documentation, for discriminating against 


7 





left-wing students. He was also criticized for not appointing 
Mortimer to an academic staff position. Teichman earnt 
the enmity of the Labor Club for his hostile role during 
the period when the Labor Club was giving aid to the 
National Liberation Front (N.L.F.). The Monash Soviet 
incident was important since, because of it, the D.L.P. 
could not raise opposition to self-professed communists 
during the late sixties. Students remembered their witch- 
hunting against pale liberals in the middle sixties and 
would no longer rally to their cries against the Communists. 

The most significant factor in student politics during the 
sixties was the response to American and Australian 
aggression in Vietnam. Before the Australian involvement 
in Vietnam, Students’ Representative Councils were 
debating grounds for careerists, but after the War began, 
the careerists were under constant challenge. Before the 
War, left-wing student organizations were either A.L.P. 
cheer squads (Monash, Adelaide and Canberra) or forums 
for factional squabbles (Melbourne and Sydney). In either 
case, they had no influence on the apathetic majority of 
the student body. But during the period of the War, the 
political consciousness of large groups of students changed 
significantly, in Australia and America because of the 
active involvement of these countries in the War, and in 
Western European countries because of the blatant U.S. 
aggression in Vietnam. 

The direct involvement of Australian students in the 
War by conscription shook many of them from the com¬ 
placency of post-war affluence and forced them to think 
and question the reasons for the War. From this position, 
they went on to examine the nature of the society that was 
responsible for that War and some students began to see 
the need to rebel and moved beyond that towards an 
understanding of the necessity for working-class politics. 

In May 1965, one month after the Australian invasion 
of Vietnam, the Australian Student Labor Federation held 
the first anti-Vietnam demonstration at which students 
were arrested; three of the sixteen arrested came from 
Monash. The same A.S.L.F. Conference passed a motion 
of conditional support for the National Liberation Front 
(N.L.F.) of South Vietnam. Three Monash students voted 
for it. two of whom became President and Secretary of the 


8 


Club the following year. The evening after the motion was 
passed, A.L.P. leader Calwell cancelled an appointment to 
address the Conference. The motion was successfully 
rescinded with supporters abstaining from the second 
vote, but the question of support for the N.L.F. had now 
been posed to the Monash student left. The debate on 
the N.L.F. saw the beginning of a polarization inside 
Monash Labor Club. Even though some members of the 
Labor Club were developing and even though they sup¬ 
ported the N.L.F., they were still Left-Social Democrats, 
and identified with the Cairns wing of the A.L.P. and the 
Victorian Central Executive, rather than taking a revolu¬ 
tionary position. 

The majority of the Club was still Whitlamite right-wing. 
They were also involved in the Vietnam issue and spon¬ 
sored a series of addresses by speakers against the War, 
all liberal in tone, which were later published as a pam¬ 
phlet. The Labor Club helped to initiate a number of 
valuable teach-ins on Vietnam and members on the S.R.C. 
moved a policy that called for all troops (including the 
Vietnamese!) to withdraw from Vietnam. It took three 
years and a change of student government system to 
change Monash official policy to support the N.L.F. 

In 1966, the Labor Club passed into the hands of 
Cairnsite leftists. The new president David Nadel and his 
comrades were elected on a policy of activism, and in the 
context of the Vietnam War this was to lead inevitably 
to a rejection of the Social Democratic politics. They were 
not at that time seen as a threat to the basic direction of 
the Club, and it was actually a Fabian that nominated 
the president! 

The new leadership put out a broadsheet Left Hook, the 
forerunner of Print, which offended the Social Democrat 
Whitlamites both in form and content. Other members of 
the Right opposed the new Committee’s attempt to hold 
regular general meetings of the Club to decide official 
policy. They believed that while the Committee met regu¬ 
larly and implemented policy, the Club as a whole should 
not have a policy. The policy general meetings, like the 
broadsheet, did not fully get off the ground till the 
beginning of 1967 and the campaign against the Bolte 


9 









degree. However later fully functioning general meetings 
played a major role in involving and radicalizing the 
membership (over 300 in 1968) of the Labor Club. 

Meanwhile the Labor Club members continued to play 
a role on the S.R.C. which began organizing protest sales 
of the pamphlet American Atrocities in Vietnam (which 
the Vice Squad had attempted to ban) and a motorcade 
against conscription. On the last day of first term 1966, 
President Johnson arrived in Melbourne, and the S.R.C., 
working with the Labor Club, organized a large (in those 
days) Monash contingent to the demonstration. The 
Johnson demonstration was marked by extreme and 
unexpected police violence. The unprovoked police attack 
on the crowd posed the question of State Power to the 
Social Democratic (pro-A.L.P.) members of the Labor 
Club in a way that could not be ignored. The S.R.C. 
sponsored a pamphlet full of statutory declarations listing 
incidences of the police attack. 

Hard on the heels of the Johnson demonstration came 
the Federal elections in which the Labor Club leadership 
was involved, both as A.L.P. members and more signifi¬ 
cantly, as part of the Youth Campaign Against Conscrip¬ 
tion. Many of them believed that Labor was certain to win 
because of their withdrawal policy on Vietnam and its anti¬ 
conscription policy. Labor’s failure led to a profound 
despair about parliamentary politics and a (fairly super¬ 
ficial) rejection of Social Democracy. It was not till the 
experiences of the Aid to the N.L.F. Campaign that Labor 
Club members began to develop political understanding 
that justified their previous more emotional rejection of 
reformism and the A.L.P. 

During the vacation (1966/67) the Labor Club con¬ 
tinued a Vietnam-orientated off-campus involvement, 
constituting the majority of the organizers of the demon¬ 
stration against Nguyen Ky, then principal U.S. puppet in 
Vietnam. Straight after the Anti-Ky demonstration, a 
national Anti-War Activist Conference was held in Sydney, 
attended by a large number of Monash Activists. 

The experience of the Johnson and Ky demonstrations 
and the Federal election of 1966 had catalysed the radicali- 
zation of many Monash students who, prior to these events, 
were only just beginning to question the nature of Austra¬ 


10 




lian society and its part in the Vietnam War. These 
demonstrations were seen by the government as the 
beginnings of a U.S.-style student revolt. University 
administrations, mindful of the Berkeley (California) 
student revolt early in 1965, and moved possibly by a 
desire to ‘protect’ themselves, considered off-campus dis¬ 
cipline. Berkeley had not influenced students’ consciousness 
until 1967 when Monash started to be called ‘Australia’s 
Berkeley’. To attend a demonstration in those days was a 
courageous act. Nowadays it is an accepted right and a 
regular occurrence. 

The Labor Club set up a headquarters where several 
prominent activists lived. There, plans for 1967 were dis¬ 
cussed. From the Johnson demonstration till the beginning 
of term in 1967, the Labor Club activists went through a 
period of intense re-examination of their previous political 
stance. With two exceptions, the leaders had entered 
Monash after 1965. The exceptions were former members 
of the Melbourne Labor Club and the Sydney A.L.P. Club. 
Some of these activists were later to move to a Maoist 
position, and all emerged at the beginning of term with 
a revolutionary socialist activist perspective. 


11 






) 



No Pedigree for Pigs 

k On 1st December, 1966, the University wrote to the 
Premier, inviting him to accept an honorary degree; the 
letter of acceptance was dated December 6. Ryan was 
sentenced on 12th December and he was hanged on 3rd 
February, 1967.’ 

Sound (Official broadsheet of Monash 
University, 8th February, 1971). 

It was the matter of Premier Bolte’s honorary degree 
that first raised the question of the relationship between 
the State and the University in the minds of the students 
of Monash — or at least raised it for the first time with 
special vividness. Feeling against the award was strong — 
not only because of its amazingly ill-conceived timing, 
(anti-Bolte sentiments can hardly have been higher than 
at the time of Ryan’s hanging) but because of the plainly 
nervous fashion in which the administration went about 
its bestowal. Vice-Chancellor Matheson, foreseeing student 
and staff opposition, treated the business with ponderous 
secrecy. In a private interview with the Editors of Lot's 


13 











Wife, he explained that Sir Henry was sensitive and might 
penalize Monash if there was a lot of trouble surrounding 
his award. At no stage did he threaten the Editors, but 
rather he appealed to their ‘loyalty to the University’, a 
tactic he has since used on countless student officials. 

Opposition to the ‘Bolte degree' was led by the Labor 
Club — the first protest it had led as an independent body. 
Dr. Matheson has recently dated the beginning of student 
unrest at Monash from the publication of Print — the 
Labor Club's broadsheet — in Orientation week of 1967. 
Perhaps he was thinking particularly of the second issue 
of Print (9th March, 1967) which tore apart his carefully 
tailored cloak of secrecy with a report on the background 
to the degree decision. It is reprinted below (with the 
omission of a short paragraph about pressure put on the 
Dean of Arts which was subsequently proven inaccurate): 
THE BOLTE DEGREE 

Ever since December last year rumours that the Premier of 
Victoria was to be granted an honorary degree by Monash 
University have been circulating on the campus. 

Information that has come to hand within the last two 
weeks has by now changed these stories from unsubstantiated 
rumours into more reliable information. Due to the cloud 
of secrecy with which the University cloaks its affairs the 
full details are not yet known, but that which has leaked 
out looks very nasty indeed. 

It’s said that most of the action took place at a recent 
meeting of the Professorial Board. Print's informants say 
that when the Vice-Chancellor arrived at the Professorial 
Board meeting he asked that standing orders be suspended 
and that no minutes be taken during the suspension. He then 
went on to tell the Board that honorary degrees would be 
given to Sir Henry Bolte, Dame Mabel Brooks, and the 
Chairman of the S.E.C. 

In the debate that followed a number of Professors spoke 
heatedly against the granting of the Bolte degree, but it 
seemed that the majority of the Board were prepared to go 
along with the whole distasteful business so long as it meant 
that University funds would not be cut off. 

Until Professor Andrew, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, 
spoke. In a blistering attack on Sir Henry Bolte he said that 
Victoria was becoming a Police State, and refused to associate 
the Faculty of Medicine with an honorary degree for the 
Premier. The Dean of every other Faculty then followed 
suit by refusing to grant the honorary degree in their 
particular Faculty. 

The above, of course, has been hearsay, and the only 
documentary evidence to date is a significant omission from 
the minutes of a meeting of the University Council last 


14 




November. The minutes are divided into two sections headed 
“Business” and “Action” and each paragraph is numbered, 
so that a paragraph in the Business section has the same 
number as the corresponding number in the Action section. 
In the November minutes there is a paragraph number in the 
Business section with no motion recorded alongside it. Yet 
in the Action section the same number has “Vice-Chancellor 
and Academic Registrar” alongside it. Apparently the Vice- 
Chancellor and the Academic Registrar are to put a blank 
space into effect! Unless what should be in a blank space 
is a motion that Sir Henry Bolte, Dame Mabel Brooks and 
the Chairman of the S.E.C. be given honorary degrees. 

Picking up the story from the Professorial Board meeting 
again the Deans’ rebellion had left the Vice-Chancellor in 
an awkward position. But there was still a way out. The 
University Council may grant an honorary Doctor of Letters 
without reference to any of the Faculties. But this is only 
done when there is no time to go through the full procedure, 
and to give Bolte one of these degrees would be an insult. 

The news that all graduation ceremonies have been post¬ 
poned from April to some time in the May vacation would 
seem to indicate that the Vice-Chancellor has won out against 
the Deans, and that Bolte will be given an honorary degree 
then. The vacation is traditionally a time for raising fees in 
Australian universities, because there are no students about 
then. It’s tempting to see the postponement of the graduation 
ce r emonies as being motivated by similar considerations.’ 

Print then went on to speculate on the reasons for giving 
Sir Henry the troublesome degree: 

indeed Matheson is known to be frightened of what staff 
and students might do if and when they find out about the 
Bolte degree. That’s why he’s gone to considerable lengths 
to keep the whole matter a secret. 

At first glance one can sympathize with Matheson’s 
position. He doesn’t want to give an honorary degree to a 
man like Bolte. Nor probably do most of those who comprise 
the Honorary Degrees Committee. But Bolte is going to get 
one and the obvious inference is that Bolte has blackmailed 
the degree out of the University by letting it be known that 
if he doesn’t get it next year’s funds may be cut even further. 
So Matheson is deeply offended by Bolte’s high-handed 
conduct and he says to himself “I should put the good of the 
University before my own personal feelings. If I don’t give 
in. Monash will suffer financially.” 

So reluctantly he sells his soul to the hangman. 

Unfortunately he is doing more than that. He’s selling 
our souls to the hangman too, and that’s why, in the final 
analysis, you can’t sympathize with the Vice-Chancellor.’ 

A month or two later it became obvious that Sir Henry 
wasn’t blackmailing the University, and a much more dis¬ 
tasteful rumour, with considerable circumstantial evidence 


15 
















to support it, came to light. Print reported the colourful 
rumour that two senior University office-holders, one of 
whom was inebriated, the other extremely ambitious, 
offered Bolte an honorary degree at a party. University 
officers felt they could not withdraw the offer because of 
the embarrassment a withdrawal would cause. Hence the 
unanimity on the Honorary Degrees Committee and the 
Council, though apparently the Professorial Board is not 
so easily co-opted. Print then summed up: 

‘The most valuable thing about a University is not the 
Library, or the lecture rooms, but the spirit of independence 
and free enquiry that exists, to some extent at least, in most 
Australian Universities. 

The basic question in this case is not whether or not a 
man as bad as Bolte should be allowed to blackmail the 
University to gratify his own personal vanity or for any other 
reason. 

Men like Bolte have too much power over the University 
as it is, without men like Matheson selling the University out 
even further. 

If Matheson is allowed to sell out, Monash will become 
a fine tertiary training institution, but will cease to be a 
University.’ 

The publication of this article created an immediate 
furore at Monash. Three Deans, Professors Andrew, 
Cochrane and Selby-Smith, immediately denied the story, 
as did Matheson. Matheson accepted invitations to address 
the Student’s Representative Council and the Staff 
Association. But when he appeared before these bodies, 
he simply read a prepared statement and refused to answer 
questions. Dr. Matheson also summoned the Editor of 
Print and the President of the Labor Club to appear before 
him; during the interview he threatened them with discip¬ 
line for publishing libellous material. Not wishing to appear 
biased against the Left, he also delivered a similar threat 
against the Editor of Free Speech , the D.L.P. Club publi¬ 
cation. Finally Dr. Matheson repeated this threat in a 
letter to Lot’s Wife: this letter triggered the debate on 
censorship that has persisted in the background of every 
student issue since. 

‘DEAR SIR,—The second edition, 1967, of the above broad¬ 
sheet included the statement that “it would appear that 
pressure has been brought to bear on the editors of Print 
to desist from comment . . .” 

What actually happened was that I saw Messrs. Cassidy 
and Nadel, in the presence of Mr. Falk, and told them if 


16 


they published statements that might be construed by the 
Court as libellous, if an action was brought, they might 
render themselves liable to be brought before the University’s 
Disciplinary Committee on a charge of misconduct. 

I have now seen Mr. Bailey in the presence of Mr. John 
Price, and have said much the same to him. I took particular 
care to try to explain to him that I am not trying to prevent 
controversy or discussion about the University’s affairs but 
that I am very concerned about the manner in which contro¬ 
versy is being conducted at present. 

The purpose of both these interviews was to give these 

gentlemen warning that in promoting their views_which 

they are quite entitled to hold—they might have exceeded 
the bounds of fair comment and have indulged in offensive 
and possibly libellous comment on members of the University, 
and that any repetition of this sort of thing, by any student, 
might lead to disciplinary processes. 

It has fortunately not so far been necessary to make 
much use of the power of the Discipline Committee and 
consequently the word “misconduct”, which appears in the 
Statute, has not been defined by a body of case law. How¬ 
ever, there seems every reason to expect that the Committee 
would start from the assumption that actions which outside 
the University might lead to conviction in a Court could 
within the University fall within the definitions of misconduct. 
Among such actions the publishing of libellous or defamatory 
statements about members of staff must be included. 

At successive Orientation Weeks I have told our new 
students that we intend to treat them like adults and it 
would therefore be inconsistent, as well as a complete nega¬ 
tion of what the University is trying to do, for me to object 
if students develop a lively interest in University and public 
affairs and express their views with vigour. I have no such 
intention. What I do now say is that among the responsi¬ 
bilities which adulthood brings is that of standing up to the 
consequence’s of one’s actions in a way that is not expected 
of a child. And that if students overstep the bounds of 
propriety in their controversies then they must be prepared 
to face the consequences. 

Yours faithfully, 

J. A. L. Matheson, 

Vice-Chancellor.’ 

Meanwhile the S.R.C.. unable to decide whether to 
demonstrate against the Bolte degree or not. ran a survey 
to gauge student opinion. 68% of those questioned opposed 
the degree, but 51 % did not feel that it was the S.R.C.’s 
role to organize a demonstration. Professor Cochrane, 
Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Politics, would 
not allow a member of the S.R.C. to collect completed 
survey forms after his lecture. 


17 


















Consequently the S.R.C. decided against holding a 
demonstration, but the Labor Club, working through its 
Anti-Bolte Sub-Committee, undertook to organize one 
instead. Badges demanding ‘No Degree for Hangman’ 
were sold out almost immediately, though a slogan pro¬ 
duced by some anonymous Labor Club members had a 
more lasting effect. ‘No Pedigree for Pigs’, written in fer¬ 
tilizer on the forum lawn, was visible from the top of the 
Humanities Building (Ming Wing) for three months! 

In an attempt to forestall the demonstration. Dr. Mathe- 
son arranged another interview with the President of the 
S.R.C. in which he warned that police might be called on 
campus to protect Sir Henry. As the threat was not made 
to the organizers it did not have the desired intimidatory 
effect. Then he hit on a much more effective way of fore¬ 
stalling the demonstration. He changed the venue of the 
ceremony from Monash to the Melbourne Town Hall, and 
arranged for the ceremony to fall during the vacation. Dr. 
Matheson explained that the Alexander Theatre, which 
has been used for graduation ceremonies ever since, was 
too small to hold all the graduates. 

The Labor Club countered this move by saying that the 
demonstration was not against Sir Henry accepting the 
degree, but Council offering it: the demonstration could 
still be held on campus, during term. On 12th May, the 
last academic day before the Graduation Ceremony, in a 
packed lecture theatre the Labor Club awarded a degree 
to Sir Henry Pig, a piglet which showed its great 
displeasure by defecating on the rostrum. The Pig then 
led off three hundred demonstrators to the Council Room, 
where the relationship of the University to the State was 
discussed. 

Sir Henry (the Premier, that is) was awarded his degree 
a week later. As a gesture of disapproval, most graduates 
refused to applaud. The Administration did not take dis¬ 
ciplinary action against the students or the pig for entering 
the Council Room, perhaps in the hope that criticism of 
the University’s subservience to the Government would 
die down. 

In fact it had only begun. 


18 


Aiding the Enemy 


The affair of the Bolte degree was the first conflict between 
students and administration over the place of the State in 
I university affairs. 

But it was the 1967 campaign to send aid to the 
; National Liberation Front of South Vietnam that first 
j earned Monash its reputation for student radicalism. Initi¬ 
ated by the Labor Club, the decision to collect aid funds 
sparked off a major storm which led to such events as a 
j special act of the Commonwealth Parliament ‘For the Pro¬ 
tection of the Defence Force in respect of its Operations 
in or near Vietnam’, a proclamation directed against the 
Club by the Commonwealth Governor-General in Council, 
and (of all things) a breach of diplomatic relations between 
Australia and Cambodia. 

All this profoundly influenced the future development 
of both the anti-war movement and the student movement 
in Australia and in fact much of what happened later at 
Monash can only be understood within the context of the 


19 














N.L.F. Aid Campaign. Although it was basically a Labor 
Club affair involving only a small minority of the student 
population (the ‘tiny minority’ cliche was actually valid in 
this case — for the last time), the repercussions are still 
being felt. Recognizing its importance Dr. Matheson, in a 
public debate in 1970, said that ‘the first act of actual 
confrontation with the authorities at Monash was when the 
students collected aid for the Viet Cong j(sic)\ 

Because Dr. Matheson and his colleagues did regard 
the collection of aid for the N.L.F. as a ‘Confrontation’ 
with their authority, and actually ‘disciplined’ students for 
collecting medical aid, what was originally an ‘extremist’ 
action sponsored by a section of the anti-war movement 
who happened also to be Monash students became a 
University ‘issue’. As a result. Monash students were 
shaken out of their apathy and for the first time some 
began to see the Vice-Chancellor as an ‘enemy’ a threat 
to their democratic rights and a representative of ruling 
class interests. 

The Labor Club now gained credibility as a serious and 
committed group prepared to take personal risks in support 
of what it stood for. Many recognized it had something 
important to say about the war in Vietnam and the nature 
of the University, and Print , the Labor Club organ, became 
the main source of campus news and opinion for most 
students at that time. 

And just as interesting as the effect of the N.L.F. Aid 
Campaign on the general climate of the anti-war move¬ 
ment as a whole was its transformation of the Labor Club 
itself. Originally a group of rather naive and inexperienced 
young students with vague leanings towards revolutionary 
socialism but strong illusions about the nature of society 
and the University’s place within it, the Labor Club was 
suddenly hurled into the middle of the sharpest political 
struggle in which any section of the student movement had 
yet been engaged. Those who stayed with it throughout 
all the twists and turns and despite intense pressures, 
emerged with a skill and toughness previously lacking in 
‘student politics’. Having faced the prospect of up to two 
years in gaol and expulsion from the University, the Labor 
Club activists were left with fewer illusions about the 
nature of the University and the State, and a serious com- 


20 


mitrrent to revolutionary politics. Their first-hand experi¬ 
ence of repression impressed on them the need to organize 
in a serious and disciplined way with the aim of building a 
mass movement. 

The fact that the A.L.P. (including Dr. Cairns and the 
‘left’) joined with the Government and the D.L.P. to make 
the Labor Club’s activities a criminal offence helped bring 
about the final breach between the club and social demo¬ 
cracy — Labor Club supporters left the A.L.P. and social 
democrats left the Labor Club. The University’s inter¬ 
vention in the campaign and the use of its disciplinary 
powers against the Club was the starting point for the 
protracted struggle between the left and the University 
authorities that followed, as well as raising the question 
of ‘discipline’ as an issue at Monash for the first time. The 
first student general meeting on political issues was held 
during the N.L.F. campaign, undermining the influence 
of the reactionary S.R.C. and paving the way for the estab¬ 
lishment of the more representative participatory demo¬ 
cracy system of the ‘Monash Association of Students’ in the 
following year. 

FIRST SUPPORT FOR THE N.L.F. 

Expressions of solidarity with the N.L.F. began to be 
heard in the anti-war movement very early in the piece — 
mainly from elements regarded as ‘left-wing extremist’ at 
the time. This caused a reaction from the right-wing 
leadership of the anti-war movement (including the Com¬ 
munist Party of Australia) so that the carrying of N.L.F. 
flags was banned at the demonstrations against South Viet¬ 
namese Premier Ky’s visit to Australia in 1967. (The ban 
was ineffective, although some left-wingers in the Monash 
Labor Club supported it because they felt that the flags 
‘might alienate the masses’.) By mid-1967 a substantial 
number of the younger militant anti-war activists had 
arrived at a position of supporting the N.L.F. Perhaps the 
best summary of this developing consciousness and the 
history of what happened later is contained in Which Way 
Treason? — a broadsheet published by the Monash N.L.F. 
Aid Committee: 

‘For a long time, the Monash Labor Club, in common with 

the other University Labor Clubs, has opposed the Vietnam 


21 











war. We felt that the United States was guilty of aggression 
and that Australia should not join with them in sending troops 
to intervene in a civil war. Together with many sections of 
the community we fought hard against commitments to the 
Vietnam war and the sending of conscripts. But we failed 
and the war still goes on and conscripts are still getting 
killed. 

Gradually we came to realize that it was no use simply 
condemning the war and demanding that it stopped. We 
were logically forced to move from denouncing the United 
States as an aggressor to supporting the victims of aggression 

_the Vietnamese people led by the National Liberation 

Front. For a long time we have been distributing literature 
which showed that the war was not ‘aggression from the 
North” and that the “Viet-Cong” were an indigenous southern 
Vietnamese nationalist movement whose main aims were 
social justice, land reform and an end to foreign domination. 
We had been pointing out to people that the Americans 
were the aggressors who had sent half a million troops to 
occupy another country and who were engaged in indiscrimi¬ 
nate attacks on the civilian population. After saying this sort 
of thing for some time we were led to acknowledge our 
actual support for the National Liberation Front. Support 
for the N.L.F. has been the policy of the Monash Labor 
Club (and of the Australian Student Labour Federation 
which represents Labor Clubs at all Australian Universities) 
for a considerable time now but no concrete action was taken 
to implement it. The Sydney University A.L.P. Club did 
establish a fund for medical aid to North Vietnam and the 
N.L.F. more than a year ago. This has been largely ignored 
since. 

Accordingly we decided that the best way to make our 
opposition to the war felt was to declare our full support 
for the National Liberation Front and to prove that we meant 
it by collecting funds for them. This was put before a series 
of five general meetings of the Labor Club with attendances 
between 50 and 80 and it was finally decided on Friday, 
21st July, after a total of seven hours discussion that the 
club would sponsor an autonomous committee for Aid to 
the N.L.F. which would have two funds—the main one for 
direct financial aid to the N.L.F. (the “unspecified” fund) 
and a second one for medical aid to civilians in N.L.F. 
controlled areas.* 

It is interesting to note that in those days 50 to 100 
Labor Club members was regarded as a large meeting and 
it required lengthy and intensive debate just to convince 
the Labor Club of the need to support the N.L.F. By 
1970 a student general meeting had adopted support for 
the N.L.F. and collection of funds for it as official policy 
of the Monash Association of Students. 


22 


THE REACTION BEGINS 

The decision to collect aid was taken on a Friday and 
by the following Monday the press scare campaign was 
on. Public reaction was whipped up in the most blatant 
way over the next few days — ‘Government must stop 
Cong aid’ cried the R.S.L.; ‘the decision does not reflect 
the feeling of the average Labor Club member’ (right-wing 
Labor Club members); ‘in particularly poor taste . . . 
whether it be right or wrong, we are fighting in Vietnam, 
and presumably fighting the N.L.F.’(Monash Liberal Club); 
‘(The Communists) may be puzzled to realize how much 
toleration is shown here to the curious sideline activities 
of minorities in our universities’ The Herald Editorial); 
‘. . . Brings aid and comfort to the forces of aggression 
in Vietnam . . . will prolong the war and increase suffering 
. . . (students involved) unworthy of their citizenship’ (the 
Minister for Defence, Mr. Fairhall); ‘send them to Vietnam 
or send them to jail* (the State Council of the Liberal 
Party); ‘Left-wing staff to blame ... an act of open 
treachery’ (the Monash D.L.P. Club); ‘the overwhelming 
majority of students at Monash deplore the proposed 
scheme’ (the S.R.C. President); ‘most untypical of student 
attitudes to Vietnam’ (World University Service); and last 
! but not least, the Vice-Chancellor’s office at Monash 
| announced: There is very strong feeling against this among 
students and staff. It is terrible for the University to be 
associated with it.’ 

, An hysterical atmosphere was created within the Univer- 
I sity as well as outside and there were several incidents 
/ of physical violence against Labor Club members. The 
I press openly incited this with gleeful reports such as the 
, following: 

‘More than 25 students went to the students administration 
offices and threatened to throw members of the Labor Club 
into an ornamental pool . . . They said later: “We are just 
as ashamed of them as people outside the University and 
we will do anything to stop them, including violence” . . . 
“We think their action is treason and should be treated as 
such . . Australians have supported the Government’s 
i commitment to the war and we want it known that it is 
only a ratbag minority going against it”.’ (The Herald 
Tuesday, 25th July.) 

‘Groups of students at Melbourne and Monash yesterday 
acted strongly against the proposed committee to aid the 


23 













N.L.F. in South Vietnam’ . . . ‘Soon after Mr. Price left the 
(Admin) building he was surrounded by about 50 students— 
many from the medical faculty—who yelled out “commie 
and pelted him with flour bombs. One student who wore 
swastika signs on his jumper with “Third Reich printed on 
it yelled “You coward Price, you’re just a bloody commie 
I (Age, Thursday, 27th July.) 

Faced with a situation in which ‘violent incidents’ were 
taking place at Monash and the right to ‘academic free¬ 
dom’ was being threatened, the Administration acted 
promptly to restore order by threatening disciplinary action 
against those responsible. Setting a pattern which has 
become familiar, Admin's action was not to discipline those 
right-wing students engaged in physical violence and dis¬ 
ruption, but to endorse their activities by banning Labor 
Club activities. The Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor 
Andrew, issued a directive on 27th July that no collections 
were to be allowed on campus, except for medical aid 
through a London Doctor’s Committee that he nominated. 
Professor Andrew also made a donation towards the 
medical aid fund so as to mitigate the severity of his ban. 
While obviously a conscience-salving gesture, this fact was 
to assume importance later when three students were dis¬ 
ciplined for exactly the same ‘offence’. No steps were taken 
by Admin then or later, to put a stop to the right-wing 
thuggery that was being promoted by the D.L.P. Club. 
So much for their concern over ‘violence’. 

During the first week of hysteria, the D.L.P. Club, with 
the support of the S.R.C. and Admin took the opportunity 
to convene the first political general meeting of students 
ever held at Monash. This was reported in the Sun of 
Thursday, 27th July: 

‘More than 1000 students are expected to attend a meeting 
at Monash University today to discuss the University Labor 
Club’s decision to raise funds for the National Liberation 
Front in Vietnam . . . The students will be asked to vote 
on this resolution: 

“We the students of Monash University meeting here today, 
wish to disassociate ourselves from the Labor Club for the 
ill-repute they have brought on both the students of Monash 
University and the University itself, by offering material aid 
to the N.L.F.” 

“Irrespective of the question of the commitment of 
Australian troops to Vietnam, the troops themselves, many 
of them National Servicemen, deserve the full material sup¬ 
port of the Australian people.” ’ 


24 


In fact, when this meeting of ‘More than 1000’ students 
actually took place the resolution favoured by the sub¬ 
editors of The Sun was rejected and resolutions supporting 
the Labor Club’s right to collect any aid and opposing the 
University’s ban on collections were adopted instead. Need¬ 
less to say no further mention of this meeting was heard 
in the press, not even in The Sun which originally pro¬ 
moted it. One can also date the opposition to the principle 
of student general meetings on the part of Admin and 
the D.L.P. Club from this event. 

Print of Monday, 31st July, commented: _ 

‘Prior to the meeting, Labor Club members who supported 
the establishment of a fund to aid the National Liberation 
Front, had taken the abuse, the letters written on toilet 
paper and the flour bombs as representative of the reaction 
of the majority of students, and thought themselves totally 
isolated from the general student body. 

The meeting on Thursday, however, refuted this in no 
uncertain terms. Not only was the initial motion defeated 
but the students of Monash University decided in addition 
to take a positive stand on the issue. They asserted the “right 
of every Australian to hold and express his own opinion 
regardless of the prevailing official and public attitudes of 
the day” and “supported most strongly the Labor Club’s 
right to any political views” and “opposed any restriction 
of use of University facilities to any University club”, and 
they called on the S.R.C. “to institute civil and criminal 
proceedings against any person or persons who, in their 
opinion have assaulted any person within the University 
because of the opinions they express”. Finally, the meeting 
declared that it “opposes the war and urges the Australian 
government to do all in its power to seek a peaceful solu¬ 
tion to the war by recognising the N.L.F. as a legitimate 
party to negotiations.” 

In addition to the support for our civil liberties, a most 
interesting development has been the general shift to the 
left of University opinion. Instead of our extreme position 
causing a reaction to the right as some people expected it 
has allowed people to remain moderates while adopting a 
much harder line. Thus, people who were previously saying 
“well of course I don’t agree really with the war but we 
can’t pull cut now” are now saying “I’m opposed to the war 
but I couldn’t possibly support the N.L.F.” or even “I don’t 
object to medical aid to the N.L.F. because they are in the 
right but I don’t agree with providing military aid while our 
troops are fighting.’’ It is very interesting to note that the 
student meeting did not dissociate itself from the medical 
section of the fund. 

One of the best developments has been the resolution that 
the meeting opposes the Vietnam war. We have been trying 


25 














to get the S.R.C. to carry a moderate motion opposing the 
war or at least to take the matter to a general meeting of 
students for some time. We never succeeded because the 
S.R.C. felt that most students did not clearly oppose the 
war (they were probably right). 

We believe that we achieved this result by taking a 
positive and clear-cut stand and that if we compromise on 
our stand now it can only do damage. 

This last sentence was aimed at the Labor Club meeting 
to be held that day at which, in accordance with another 
suggestion from the Sun. ‘student leaders' were going to 
move that the N.L.F. Aid proposal be ‘thrown out’. 

Prior to the meeting a massive campaign had been 
organized among more moderate Labor Club members 
to ‘save the Club’ and the result was a turn-out of more 
than 150 (as was pointed out later, this represented more 
people than the combined membership of all the anti- 
Labor political clubs at Monash put together and was a 
larger meeting than the last annual general meeting of 
students called by the S.R.C.). Although violent incidents 
had ceased after the student meeting condemning them 
(and only then: students had to take action themselves 
since Admin did nothing), press attacks on the Labor Club 
continued unabated. ‘Left-liberal’ staff members joined in 
the attack (instead of rallying to a defence of democratic 
rights) with statements such as the following from a Max 
Teichman, a senior lecturer in Politics who had been 
outspoken against the Vietnam war: ‘If you are ready to 
arm people to kill your own conscripts, you should be 
prepared to kill them yourselves’. This comment was given 
headlines in The Herald on the Friday before the Labor 
Club meeting. Despite all this, the Club held firm and 
voted 90 to 30 against dropping the aid plan. 

By the end of the week special branch police were 
crawling around the University questioning people, and 
had broken into students’ homes at 6.20 a.m. to ‘interview 
them. The Deputy Commissioner announced that police 
‘would not hesitate to prosecute students if sufficient 
evidence was found against them’. 

Because the Labor Club had been busy replying to 
internal and external attacks, they did not actually begin 
collections of medical aid on campus until the first week 
in August. In accordance with Professor Andrew’s direc¬ 


26 


tive, collections for non-medical aid were not taken on 
campus, although many donations were received for the 
non-medical fund through the mail. At that time it 
appeared as though most of the hysteria had died down 
although hate mail such as the following the Club President 
Martha Campbell received was still coming in: 

‘Dear Mrs. Martha, (Slut) 

You should be rooted and burnt. Sluts like you should 
be locked up. If ever I see you at Monash or anywhere for 
that matter I will personally cut your bloody throat, you 
wouldn’t even make a good whore for the Abbo’s.’ Our 
blokes are being killed overseas while you, you harlot are 
sending the Viet-Cong money. I write to you on shit paper 
to a bit of shit. 

Yours truly, 

Aussie. 

P.S. I know you so watch out.’ 

GOVERNMENT and UNIVERSITY ACTION 

On Tuesday, 8th August, Lot's Wife , the Monash 
Student newspaper, editorialized that . . the N.L.F. aid 
scheme is likely to become commonplace (albeit conten¬ 
tious) on the Monash campus, and through many sections 
of the community as weir. This was (in the short term) 
quite wrong. On 2nd August the National Civic Council 
(N.C.C.) paper Newsweekly published by B. A. Santamaria 
characterized the aid as ‘treachery' and commented that 
‘The prescribed penalty is life imprisonment’. The paper 
said that Monash had a reputation as a ‘treason factory’ 
and went on: 

‘The reputation may not be entirely undeserved. There is 
more real, successful subversion going on, per head and per 
square foot of floor space (sic!) on the Monash campus than 
anywhere in Australia.’ 

Newsweekly (whose views are faithfully relayed at 
Monash by the N.C.C. sponsored broadsheet Free Speech) 
went on to refer to ‘the astonishing resemblance of some 
of the University’s own courses to straight-out Communist 
propaganda’. It is interesting to note that since this incred¬ 
ible faux pas the D.L.P. Club has given up distributing 
Newsweekly at Monash although that paper continues to 
carry regular ‘reports’ of Monash events, and Free Speech, 
with the same white-on-black letterhead supplied by the 
N.C.C. to its fronts at all Victorian Universities (and 


27 























interstate) continues to appear regularly. (See Lib^fy at 
Latrobe, Radical at Melbourne etc. - all identical in 

Tuesday 15th August, the press had hit on a new 

tactic and reports with headings sucf' *of 
mid on V C aid’ began to appear. Apparently rsews oi 
theClubN move had just reached Nui Dat, where news- 
paperstnd to be a wiek old’ and within a few hours 
Australian public was being mforme y remarks as - 

National Servicemen were making such pithy remarks as^ 

‘If any of these Labor Club people get in my_ way'there 
will be some bloody noses, believe me and that What s 
wrong with the Government that they don t step m an 
stop this crowd?’ was a ‘typical comment. The He ™ ld 
reported that the Army had told returned soldier not to 
comment and then quoted a Private Alf Gottschbcrg as 
sayin® ‘The Government should conscript all thes £ ratba S* 
and send them up to Vietnam . . . Perhaps after they have 
experienced a fe£ of their sneaky bombs they might think 
a second time before wanting to help them. 

On the same day the Governor of New South Wales, Sir 
Roden Cuter, V.C., told the R.S.L. that Monash students 
‘had Jone too far’. He said ‘the R.S.L. must oppose any 
group 8 which, knowingly or not, would tend to assist any 
Communist-inspired or Communist-based theory, object 

0f By Wednesday, 15th August, Senator McManus of the 
D l"P. had publicly called for students to be char 8 e J 
with treason under the Crimes Act (this carries the d ^ a * b 
penalty) and Sir Henry Bolte (‘Dr.’Bolte) had announced 
that he was very worried ‘that the money of Victorian 
taxpayers is being used to support these students who want 

10 ^ LP. urgency motion supported by the Government 
was moved in the Senate to call for legal action. After a 
full debate, the Government and the D.L.P. combined to 
defeat their own motion. The same day however Prim 
Minister Holt announced to a cheering House of Rep 
sentatives that ‘we will do everything w^m our power to 
prevent any material aid being conveyed to the Communist 
National Liberation Front’. He said: There is undoubtedly 
in Australia today, a campaign of psychological warfare 


28 


directed against the Government’s policies in Vietnam. I 
am seeking information on the various aspects of this 
campaign and I wish to see how these activities phase in 
with any organized campaign of this kind’. Holt’s red¬ 
baiting attack was given front page headlines in the Age , 
Sun and Herald (17th August) and it became clear that 
the Government was planning to introduce special legisla¬ 
tion against aid collections rather than risk having full 
scale ‘treason trials’ under the Crimes Act. 

Up to now the University had not been involved directly 
in the controversy, as the Labor Club had deliberately 
decided not to challenge the ban on non-medical aid despite 
opposition to the ban from a student meeting. While 
referring to ‘Monash students’, the newspapers and all 
other Government and reactionary spokesman always 
made it clear that ‘only a tiny ratbag minority were 
involved . The Labor Club had deliberately established its 
Aid Committee as an autonomous non-University body 
in order to avoid any confusion over University involve¬ 
ment. Into this situation stepped Dr. Matheson. Fresh 
from a trip to New Guinea, he arrived in Australia on 
Friday, 18th August, and issued a statement three days 
later that he did not plan to discipline students for raising 
money for the N.L.F. He was quoted as saying: ‘Students 
have just as much right to their political views as anyone 
else while adding that they should not give the impression 
of speaking for the University as a whole. Meanwhile, 
collections for medical aid were continuing normally at 
Monash. 

Two days later. Dr. Matheson ‘clarified’ this statement 
in the Australian (23rd August) by pointing out that collec¬ 
tion for ‘any combatant or political group of the N.L.F.’ 
has already been banned and that disregard of this instruc¬ 
tion ‘could bring the offender within the scope of the 
University’s discipline statute’. A special meeting of the 
Victorian Cabinet was held (21st August) which called 
for reports on the aid collections from the Vice-Chancellors 
of Melbourne and Monash Universities. Dr. Matheson 
dutifully sent in a report although he has denied having 
any other communications with Bolte on the matter (a 
Monash student, Alf Dowsley, stated that Dr. Matheson 
had mentioned contacts with Bolte to him in conversation. 


29 










but this claim was denied by the Vice-Chancellor). 
Although the threat of intervention against students on 
scholarships and against the general funds of Universities 
which ‘harbour’ rebels was not followed up on this occa¬ 
sion, it has been repeated since and seems likely to crop 
up again. (In the United States, legislation depriving ‘con¬ 
victed demonstrators' of scholarships has been introduced 
and the same has been proposed in Australia by the R.S.L. 
In Japan there is even a law dissolving (i.e. disbanding) 
any University which has been declared by the Minister 
of Education to be suffering from ‘student disturbances’ 
and which has not brought the situation to an end after 
twelve months). 

On the same day as Dr. Matheson’s statement in the 
Australian (23rd August), the Sun devoted its front page 
to an article under the heading ‘GOVT. RUSHING BILL 
TO STOP CONG MONEY’. The article revealed that as 
well as drafting legislation, the Government had, through 
the Reserve Bank, issued a directive instructing all banks 
to hold up any transfers which could be intended for the 
‘Viet Cong’. It was also announced that the Australian 
Red Cross Society had refused gifts earmarked for the 
N.L.F. and returned the money. Both of these steps had 
been anticipated by the Aid Committee which had taken 
precautions the previous week by sending the first $500 
of direct financial aid to the N.L.F. representatives in 
Cambodia and the first $100 of medical aid (collected at 
Monash) to the London Doctors’ Committee to be 
forwarded as medical supplies. The announcement by the 
Red Cross is important because both the Government and 
the Vice-Chancellor were later to claim that their prohibi¬ 
tions did not make medical aid illegal because aid through 
the Red Cross was still permitted. 

During this week the press stepped up its hate campaign 
again with reports from ‘disgusted’ troops and cartoons 
suggesting that Army veterans might like to bash up a 
few students. 

THE TIDE TURNS 

Details of proposed legislation called the ‘Defence Force 
Protection Bill’ were announced on Monday, 30th August. 
The Bill made it an offence punishable by up to two years 


30 


imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $2000 to send aid 
to the Government of North Vietnam, the Communist 
Party of North Vietnam, the National Liberation Front 
of South Vietnam, ‘a body of persons or person assisting 
the Government of North Vietnam or one of the bodies 
mentioned previously or opposed or likely to be opposed 
to any part of the Defence Force in operations in or near 
Vietnam, or the armed forces of the Government of North 
Vietnam or of any other body mentioned’, and last but not 
least, ‘persons engaged in guerilla activities under the direc¬ 
tion or in the interests of the Government of North Viet¬ 
nam’ or of the bodies previously mentioned. Since there 
is in fact no such country as North Vietnam, the Bill 
specified that the ‘Government of North Vietnam’ meant 
‘the government of the country known as the “Democratic 
Republic of Vietnam’’ ’. (The reference to ‘in or near 
Vietnam’ as early as 1967 is interesting. The Act would 
now extend to cover aid to the Laotians and Cambodians.) 

Although aid was only being collected for the N.L.F. 
in South Vietnam there are constant references to the 
'Government of North Vietnam’ and the ‘Communist Party 
of North Vietnam’ (specified to mean the ‘Dang Lao Dong 
Vietnam’ which translates into English as ‘Vietnam 
Workers’ Party’ rather than ‘Communist Party of North 
Vietnam’). This was because the Government was still 
trying to maintain the myth of ‘aggression from the North’. 
Newspapers consistently referred to the N.L.F. as ‘the 
political arm of the Vietcong’ or in headlines as simply 
‘Hanoi’. F J 

Indeed until the Aid campaign, the existence of the 
N.L.F. was hardly even mentioned in the papers despite 
the fact that it was an alternative Government adminis¬ 
tering two thirds of South Vietnam and providing the only 
effective Government services such as education, health 
and postal services in the areas under its control (and in 
fact the most effective ones in all South Vietnam). It is 
only since the Aid campaign that references to ‘Vietcong 
and North Vietnamese forces . . .’ have appeared, and 
the letters N.L.F. have been seen occasionally. (Although 
newspaper readers would still be unaware that the N.L.F. 
apparatus includes village primary schools, county high 
schools, University teacher training colleges, that it pub- 


31 





lishes 40 provincial newspapers and has diplomatic rela¬ 
tions with some forty other Governments . . .) 

The Bill also covered collecting or soliciting aid and 
donating to a collection. A special section made it an 
offence to ‘incite, urge, aid, or encourage' a breach of the 
other sections. This was punishable by up to six months 
gaol, imposed summarily by a magistrate without the 
opportunity for trial by jury. It was explained that this 
would be used to get the sinister ‘behind the scenes’ Com¬ 
munist manipulators who were really responsible for the 
student activities. A great deal of right-wing comment on 
the issue concerned these ‘hidden manipulators', the D.L.P. 
was especially fascinated by them although it never 
managed to unearth one. 

We reprint below excerpts from the Age of 30th August, 
describing the Attorney-General’s speech on introducing 
the Bill: ^ 

‘Mr. Bowen said that in 1965, after Australia had sent forces 
to Vietnam, groups were organised within Australia “to 
express opposition to the use of our troops in that area . 
“The Government has watched the progress of those groups.,” 
he said. “For a long time it appeared that they were keeping 
within the freedoms guaranteed to all Australians by our 
laws and were not attempting to turn from words to action .” 
(Our emphasis — Ed). 

“(The Liberal Party’s win in the Federal elections) resulted 
in a quietening, for some time, of even the most vocal of the 
small obstructionist groups,” Mr. Bowen said. 

“However, last month came the announcement from the 
Labor Club at Monash University that funds would be 
solicited to send to the so-called National Liberation Front 
of South Vietnam.” 

“The handful who supported this motion could hardly 
have hoped for the wide spread of publicity which they 
gained”. 

“The Government has no desire to stifle free discussion. 
The right to dissent is one which we value highly.” (It is 
“highly valuable” in " watching the progress of these groups " — 
Ed). 

“Not only have the students passed beyond the point of 
discussion and dissent, but people of more advanced years 
have now stepped onto the stage to encourage active assist¬ 
ance to the N.L.F.,” he said. 

“In the result the Government has decided to deal with 
the situation by specific legislation” ’ (i.e. to prevent people 
turning “from words to action” by the threat of gaol—Ed). 


32 


DR. MATHESON RESPONDS 

Bowen’s sentiments about the illegality of passing 
‘beyond the point of discussion and dissent’ have since 
been echoed many times by Dr. Matheson in relation to 
sit-ins. On this occasion the good Doctor’s response was 
to immediately announce a ‘Defence Force Protection Act’ 
of his own, even before the Bill had become law. On the 
same day that the details of the Bill were announced, its 
provisions were echoed in the following directive from 
the Vice-Chancellor: 

‘No university faculty may be used, nor may any collection 
be solicited or taken up within the University precincts for 
the purpose of raising funds or of obtaining other assistance 
intended to be sent directly or indirectly to the National 
Liberation Front of South Vietnam, The Government of 
North Vietnam or the Communist Party of North Vietnam.’ 

During subsequent disciplinary proceedings against 
three students who broke this directive, Dr. Matheson 
explained that the new directive ‘was provoked by Mr. 
Dowsley’ (who had nothing to do with the Labor Club 
but wanted to collect non-medical aid for a Chinese town 
on the border with North Vietnam, in the expectation that 
it would reach the N.L.F.). He also explained that since 
his return from overseas he had not, at the time, been 
‘entirely au fait with events that had been going on’. 
Finally the Vice-Chancellor justified the conflict between 
the new directive and the old one by saying ‘Since Pro¬ 
fessor Andrew had given his instruction events had moved 
on . . 

The main event which ‘moved on’ was of course the 
Government’s introduction into Parliament of the ‘Defence 
Force Protection Act’, banning all collections except 
through the Red Cross (which does not send medical 
supplies to the N.L.F.). Another event worth mentioning, 
but to which Dr. Matheson did not specifically refer, was 
Bolte’s call for a report, which came in between the two 
conflicting directives. 

Despite the fact that the Bill had not yet come into force 
so that the student’s actions were quite legal, and despite 
the fact that according to the Vice-Chancellor’s own 
explanations, he had only intended to frustrate Mr. 
Dowsley’s non-medical collections, and had not really 


33 

















understood what he was doing when he made the directive, 
three students were later convicted of ‘misconduct’. 

This marked a turning point in the campaign. The intro¬ 
duction of the ‘Defence Force Protection Act’ made it 
into a major national political issue, with the Government 
seeking to use the aid campaign as justification for new 
repressive legislation and for an attack on the whole of the 
anti-war movement, and with the ‘Opposition’ supporting 
this move. The new ban by Mathcson sparked off the first 
‘confrontation’ at Monash, with a major part of the Labor 
Club's energies being directed for the first time towards 
a struggle against the University authorities (who now 
began to be referred to as ‘Admin , and seen as the 
enemy’). 

By raising the question of civil liberties this repression 
by both the State and the University ended the Labor 
Club’s isolation and placed it in the van of those defending 
democratic rights, while on the other hand the opponents 
of the N.L.F. were forced back onto the defensive. 

As soon as the new Monash ban was announced the 
Labor Club Executive prepared a statement condemning 
it as a breach of faith after the Club had agreed to abide 
by Professor Andrew’s directive in order to avoid involving 
the University in the conflict between the aid supporters 
and the Government. The statement said that the Club 
would defy the ban. 

This statement was rejected by a Club general meeting 
(one can imagine what a general student meeting would 
have done with it!). Instead the Chairman of the Aid 
Committee, Peter Price, was instructed by the Club to 
speak to the Vice-Chancellor before issuing any statement 
defying his authority. It was hoped that the directive might 
only be aimed at combating the attempt to circumvent 
the ban on non-medical aid by sending it to a Chinese 
border town, and that it would not affect the continuation 
of the Labor Club’s medical aid collections. It was also 
hoped that if Dr. Matheson did intend to ban medical aid 
collections then he would agree to delay implementing 
the ban until after the Defence Force Protection Act had 
become effective, so that students would be no less free at 
Monash than elsewhere, and there would be no separate 
issue at Monash requiring the Labor Club to come into 


34 


conflict with the University. In those days it was a ‘Big 
Deal’ to consider disobeying an order from the Vice- 
Chancellor! 

Needless to say. Dr. Matheson rejected the approach 
made by Price and informed him that disciplinary action 
would be taken if the medical aid collections were con¬ 
tinued as before. With a hypocrisy that has since come to 
be regarded as characteristic, Dr. Matheson later 
announced that his ban still permitted medical aid through 
the Red Cross, even though he had been told that the 
Labor Club was not collecting for the Red Cross and the 
Red Cross was not sending aid to the N.L.F. 

It seemed clear from the Vice-Chancellor’s attitude that 
he was deliberately ‘cracking down’ on the Labor Club a 
token week or two before the Government did and that 
this had no purpose except to intimidate Monash students 
and show which side the University was on in order to 
curry favour with Bolte and Co. No attempt was made to 
conceal the fact that the University was responding to 
outside pressure, and in fact the ban was openly justified 
on the grounds that the Labor Club’s actions were hurting 
University funds (figures of more than $1,000,000 were 
mentioned by some sources). The Labor Club saw this as 
not only threatening the so-called ‘autonomy of the Univer¬ 
sity (in which it still believed), but also as a direct political 
support by the University authorities for a repressive Bill 
that the Club had been trying to defeat. Accordingly it 
decided to go ahead and defy the ban, and three members, 
Bill Dowling. Mike Hyde and Albert Langer had their 
names taken for collecting medical aid at a table in the 
Union building on Tuesday 5th September. (More than 
$60 was collected during one hour.) 

It is interesting that on this occasion the ‘extremists’ of 
the Labor Club executive were overruled by ‘moderates’ at 
a general meeting of the club, in favour of ‘reasoned dis¬ 
course’ with the Vice-Chancellor rather than direct action. 
This was the last time such a thing was to happen within 
the Labor Club. In the years to come exactly the same 
process of initial faith in discussion followed by disillu¬ 
sionment and a turn towards action was to occur on a 
much larger scale in general meetings of the student body 
as a whole. Until 1967, not even the Labor Club had 


35 









I 


totally broken with the University administration. In 
similar circumstances today, a student general meeting 
would probably be much less hesitant about acting in 
defiance of a legal directive, than was the small Labor 

Club in those days. . 

While all this was going on, a campaign against the Bill 
was taking shape. Already a medical aid committee had 
been established at Melbourne University and for unspeci¬ 
fied aid at the A.N.U. in Canberra. Similar groups were 
being formed at Sydney and Adelaide Universities and 
the Wollongong University College, and a wider non- 
University ‘Victorian Medical Aid Committee' was being 
formed. In addition to these a number of groups and 
individuals began to attack the Bill on civil liberties 
grounds and even the newspapers began expressing doubts 
about the advisability of cracking down ‘too hard . 

The Australian Council of Churches cabled Holt asking 
that humanitarian aid through voluntary agencies should 
remain legal, and individuals who were not associated with 
the aid campaign, such as the editor of the Melbourne 
University student paper Farrago, joined with the Monash 
Committee in announcing that they would defy the new 
law. 

During this period it was discovered that the Govern¬ 
ment had allowed Broken Hill Proprietary Ltd. to export 
more than $4,000,000 of steel to our ‘enemy’ China. The 
A.L.P, and the press protested that this showed the Defence 
Force Protection Act to be hypocritical. The Government 
defended itself rather lamely by claiming that this was 
‘non-military steel’, ‘to be used only for pots and pans . 
Thus through its complaints about the steel incident the 
Labor Party got itself off the hook in regard to the Defence 
Force Protection Act while in fact taking a more right- 
wing anti-communist stand than the Government. 

By Friday, 8th September, the Bill had passed all stages 
in Parliament and it was hurriedly given the ‘Royal Assent’ 
by the Governor-General on the Saturday afternoon. The 
vote was unanimous except for one Independent ex- 
Liberal member. Senator Hannaford, who had moved to a 
position of opposition to the Vietnam war. Cynics com¬ 
mented that Parliament had rarely acted with such speed 
and unanimity except in regard to members’ salaries. The 


36 


A.L.P. voted overwhelmingly in Caucus to support the 
Bill with minor modifications and all Labor Parliamen¬ 
tarians, including ‘left-wingers’ such as Dr. Jim Cairns, 
voted for it in the House. 

This marked the final break of all links between the 
Monash Labor Club and the Labor Party. Print Com¬ 
mented bitterly on behalf of the disillusioned Club 
members, under the title Powerlessness without Glory: 

‘If the A.L.P. were really Socialist, they would be supporting 
the National Liberation Front. No one expects this of them; 
they are, after all, playing politics. No one really expected 
them to oppose the Bill outlawing collection of funds for 
aid to the N.L.F. But many of us mistakenly thought that 
the A.L.P. in the interests of such basic liberties as free 
speech would oppose the incitement clause. We were wrong, 
we failed to study our Labor history. We forgot that it was 
the A.L.P. who sent in troops to break the N.S.W. coalfields 
strike in 1949, who gaoled Lance Sharkey for a statement 
more foolish than dangerous. We forgot that every Labor 
Parliamentarian except Allan Fraser joined with the Libs to 
become Prosecutor. Judge and Jury in the Browne-Fitzpatrick 
case (1955). We failed to remember the attitude of the Party 
(not Evatt) towards the Communist Party Dissolution Act 
when they let it go through the Senate in 1950. We did not 
know about the gaoling of Tom Barker by the N.S.W. Labor 
Government for posters “prejudicial to recruiting” during 
the 1914-18 war. We were not aware of the political censor¬ 
ship practised by Curtin during the Second World War and 
we did not remember that the A.L.P. expelled Maurice 
Blackburn for advocating friendship with Russia at the very 
moment that Russia was Australia’s ally against the Nazis. 

Some of us had forgotten the basic rule of the A.L.P., 
a V P rmc, P les tak . e second place to election returns. The 
A.L.P. very self-righteously disassociated themselves from 
the Labor Club. Print feels that the Labor Club might have 
more grounds to disassociate itself from the ALP’ 

Having cut themselves ideologically adrift from the 
Labor Party, the activists of the Labor Club found them¬ 
selves continuing to move further and further to the left. 
From supporting Communism in Vietnam they moved 
logically to supporting Communism in Australia. In 1967 
only one member of the Labor Club was willing to 
describe himself as a Communist (Marxist-Leninist) in 
running for election to the Club committee, and he was 
almost defeated because of it! 

REVERBERATIONS 

By launching its legislative attack on the campaign, the 


37 

















Government succeeded not only in making Aid to the 
N.L.F. a major national issue and attracting much new 
support to the Labor Club stand, but also in creating an 
‘International Incident’. 

On 7th September the text of a letter from Prince 
Sihanouk to the Melbourne University Labor Club was 
published in the papers. The letter, hand delivered by the 
Cambodian Embassy bore the seal of the Royal Govern¬ 
ment of Cambodia and was in reply to a query as to 
whether the Cambodian Head of State would assist in 
channelling aid to the N.L.F. (with whom his Government 
had diplomatic relations). 

The reply said that Sihanouk had forwarded the Mel¬ 
bourne Labor Club’s letter ‘expressing your support in 
their just struggle against the American invaders, to the 
N.L.F., gave them the N.L.F.’s address in Phnom Penh 
and concluded ‘I ask you to accept assurance of my keen 
sympathy’. 

External Affairs Minister Hasluck promptly carpeted the 
Cambodian Ambassador and reprimanded him for encour¬ 
aging anti-Government activity in Australia. He then con¬ 
fidently announced that ‘the matter is likely to rest there’. 
However it did not end there and Prince Sihanouk was not 
amused by this attempt to intimidate him from expressing 
his opposition to the Americans and support for the Viet¬ 
namese N.L.F. He denounced the remarks as ‘unaccept¬ 
able’ and immediately withdrew the Ambassador and all 
Embassy staff from Australia. 

It was not until nearly three years later that radical 
students in Australia were able to repay Sihanouk for the 
principled stand he took, by taking part in the world wide 
protests that resulted from the U.S. invasion of Cambodia. 
The National United Front in Cambodia and the N.L.F. 
in South Vietnam are now fighting side by side against 
a common enemy. 

A breach of relations with (previously friendly and 
neutral) Cambodia, was not something the reactionaries 
had expected or desired from their attack on the N.L.F. 
Aid Campaign. It was just one more in the series of 
misjudgements which led the campaign to suppress the aid 
to backfire and actually assisted it. As Vanguard, the 
official newspaper of the Communist Party of Australia 


38 


(Marxist-Leninist), put it, applying an apt quotation from 
Chairman Mao Tsetung: 

Lifting a rock only to drop it on one's own toes" is a 
Chinese folk saying to describe the behaviour of certain 
fools. The reactionaries of all countries are fools of this 
kind. In the final analysis, their persecution of the revolution¬ 
ary people only serves to accelerate the people’s revolution 
on a broader and more intense scale.’ 

The Marxist-Leninist Party’s unconditional support for 
the students was an important factor in the subsequent 
movement to a communist position by manv Labor Club 
members. 

ON CAMPUS... 

No immediate challenge was made to the Defence Force 
Protection Act (although funds continued to be collected 
surreptitiously). This was partly because the Labor Club 
had not yet decided whether it would be worth risking a 
two year gaol sentence and partly because its energy had 
been diverted into fighting off discipline charges at Monash. 

On Monday, 18th September an S.R.C. General Meeting 
of students was held. Although the S.R.C. had given full 
co-operation to the unconstitutional student general 
meeting called by the D.L.P. Club previously, it attempted 
to obstruct the holding of this one. Legal advice was 
sought in order to do so and the advice received (from 
the University Legal Officer) was published on the agenda 
for the meeting. This stated that the chairman was not 
merely entitled but obliged to refuse some of the motions 
because under the Crimes Act taken together with the 
Defence Force Protection Act it was an offence to incite 
urge, or aid or encourage someone to incite, urge, aid or 
encourage someone else to commit an offence under the 
Act! The advice added that several of the more radical 
motions should be rejected because they ‘propose improper 
use of S.R.C. funds' as opposition to such government 
measures might not be Tor the benefit of the student body’. 
Finally the ‘advice' said that motions could be rejected as 
contravening the discipline of the university in that they 
‘advocate the contravention of a direction of the Vice- 
Chancellor’. 

Subsequently, the S.R.C. disallowed a number of 
motions ‘liable to incite’. Despite this the meeting of 1500 


39 


















1 students (the largest held to that time) condemned the 
Vice-Chancellor’s prohibitions and opposed the Defence 
Forces Protection Act. the motions being passed by a 
large majority. But the S.R.C. frustrated an attempt to set 
up a committee to campaign for the abolition of the dtsctp- 
j Unary charges against the three students who had collected 
aid after the Vice-Chancellor’s ban. 

V Students could already begin to see the reactionary 
nature of the S.R.C., and it was dissolved the following 
year as being totally out of touch with student opinion. 

(These days most general meetings consider resolutions 
which ‘advocate the contravention of a direction given by 
the Vice-Chancellor’, but at that time students were still 
mesmerized by the ‘proper channels’.) 

THE TRIAL 

Lot's Wife (26th September) reported on the trial. 

‘On Tuesday. 19th September, the Discipline Committee at 
Monash University met to consider the case of the three 
students who had defied the ruling of the Vice-Chancellor 
concerning aid to the National Liberation Front (Later) 
He (Mr. Little, the defendant’s lawyer) was told he was 
there at the discretion of the Committee and that he should 
not expect anything.’ 

In the chair was Professor Derham, Dean of Law. 
Unfortunately it did not follow that the rule of law was 
supreme. There are some people who believe in a concept 
known as natural justice, but the Deans pointed out that 
this was a private matter between them and the students 
involved and that they could do as they liked. They ignored 
the furore the issue had created at Monash and the student 
meeting of the day before. , , , . ,_ 

When the lawyer appeared he asked that it be made an 
open hearing. No! Can an S.R.C. representative be present? 
At 12.25 p.m. S.R.C. President Peter Hansen was allowed 
in. Can a Lot's Wife representative be present? No! 

At 12.50 Peter Price, the first witness, was called in. He 
described what had happened and answered questions. 

After Dr. Matheson was called in, he seemed to take 
over the meeting—rephrasing questions as he wanted. He 
was right and the defendants were wrong. 

The procession started. The major point to arise was that 
the Vice-Chancellor had not seen a letter from Peter Price 
addressed 10 him. This letter had asked for a clarification of 
his ruling and had been given to his assistant the day before 
the table had been set up as Matheson had not replied to the 
letter, the actual position of the Vice-Chancellor was still 
vague. 

The other witnesses gave what was expected of them and 

40 


after nine hours the hearing was closed. 

The defendants were told that they had been found guilty. 
The Committee then decided on a penalty after taking into 
account a submission from the Vice-Chancellor asking for a 
severe reprimand. 

The penalty was twenty dollars. 

It is about time the structure of the Monash Discipline 
Committee was investigated. If the University is going to 
declare illegal actions which are still legal within the com¬ 
munity then justice must be seen to be done when the Deans 
of the University sit in judgement. In my opinion it is not 
good enough to have to submit to one’s superiors if one’s 
equals are not allowed to view the proceedings. Monash 
is a university, not a high school.’ 

Print accused the Discipline Committee of being biased, 
calling the trial a ‘Dean Machine’. Both reports were sub¬ 
sequently retracted. They were, in fact, quite accurate, 
and the Lot's Wife comment that ‘It's about time the 
structure of the Monash Discipline Committee was investi¬ 
gated'. foreshadowed the Discipline campaigns of the 
following years. (Note: Even now, five years later, the 
Administration will not allow discipline hearings to be held 
publicly.) 

The Print report was withdrawn because of blatant 
intimidation by the Vice-Chancellor and weakness on the 
part of some members of the Club. A ‘special assistant 
to the Vice-Chancellor' summoned the editors of Print to 
the Administration building and threatened them with 
either a'libel suit or disciplinary action if they did not print 
an immediate and full apology for having dared to 
describe the Discipline Committee as a ‘Kangaroo Court’ 
(Horrors!). Because it was third term and the exams were 
approaching, a majority of the Labor Club Executive 
decided not to risk going again before a biased Discipline 
Committee or an equally biased court. An apology was 
published with the only gesture of defiance beine a state¬ 
ment that: 

‘A Print written by members of the Labor Club will 
appear on Friday’, and the following lines instead of the 
usual authorisation: 

‘Authorized by Sir H. Pig, for the Monash Labor Club. 

The views expressed herein are not the views of very 
many members of the Labor Club.’ 

Even this was removed from a subsequent edition. 


41 

























Lot’s Wife also withdrew its (entirely reasonable) report. 
This incident sheds some light on the suggestion that the 
University’s disciplinary and legal powers are only used 
against radicals to prevent ‘disruption’. If they can get 
away with it at any time, the authorities will also use these 
powers to just plain intimidate dissent and impose censor¬ 
ship — they will even use them to obtain false recantations. 

The transcript of the proceedings was made a secret 
document with publication prohibited on pain of discip¬ 
linary action, so students were denied the opportunity to 
judge for themselves whether the proceedings were ‘fair’ 
or not. However we have obtained access to it and are 
publishing some excerpts below in direct defiance of this 
disciplinary threat. As the transcript is slightly inaccurate, 
having been made from a tape recording rather than by 
competent court reporters, and as the excerpts were 
selected to make a point this should not be taken as an 
authoritive description of the trial. If the Administration 
objects to this partial publication then we would suggest 
that they should not be afraid to publish the lot and let 
people see for themselves what happened. 

One feature that does come out from an examination 
of the full transcript is that although the result of the trial 
was obviously pre-determined, in many respects it was less 
of a ‘show’ than later ones. Perhaps because of the novelty 
of the situation, the Committee actually seemed interested 
in what the defendants had to say and Deans even argued 
with the students over such questions as the validity of the 
Vice-Chancellor’s actions, the students’ motives in defying 
his ruling and so on. The proceedings were completed 
in one day with a lot of legalistic pretence like that which 
characterized later ‘trials’. While points of controversy 
were consistently decided in favour of the prosecution 
and the defendant’s legal representative was given little 
scope, at least the real points in issue were brought out 
in the open (giving the students an opportunity to air 
their views on matters which Dr. Matheson had refused 
to discuss with them outside the context of the disciplinary 
proceedings). Also the prosecution witnesses gratuitously 
made such statements as ‘I should emphasize that through¬ 
out my entire enquiry the students concerned were most 
courteous’ in reference to the ‘confrontation’ and there 


42 


were no ludicrous allegations of ‘violence’, ‘intimidation’ 
and so on. 

The University’s official attitudes is apparent in the 
following extracts from the transcript: 

Mr. Little: (defendant’s lawyer) ‘You have said in para¬ 
graph 5(a) (Of a statement Monash University and Viet¬ 
nam issued on the 12th September to all members of the 
University) that “collecting unspecified funds which might 
be used by the N.L.F. for military purposes was repugnant 
to so many people that it should not be permitted on the 
campus’. Who were the many people to whom you 
referred?’ 

Vice-Chancellor: ‘The Australian public at large’ 

Mr. Little: ‘Did you actually sound out the Australian 
public at large?’ 

Vice-Chancellor: ‘I just, if you like, assumed that this was 
the case. Maybe if one had a Gallup Poll maybe one would 
find that it was not the case.’ 

Mr. Stewart: (Prosecuting lawyer) ‘I think this lacks pro¬ 
priety. It seems we are exploring the propriety of the 
Vice-Chancellor’s actions (objection upheld). 

Later: 

Mr. Little: (Referred to paragraph six of the Vice- 
Chancellor’s statement which says ‘Because the University 
exists, among other things, to promote comment and 
debate I have given my support to the next Vietnam 
Forum after having satisfied myself that virtually all points 
of view will be presented; it is expected that speakers will 
include the Minister for the Army, Mr. Whitlam and Mr 
Santamaria’.) 

Did you mean to imply that those three represent all 
the points in the issue?’ 

Vice-Chancellor: No, but they were a fair spread, I 
thought. Paragraph six was intended to explain my attitude 
about political controversy. You were at some pains to 
point out that I should take no steps to restrain political 
activity. In the past I have given support to forums on all 
sorts of subjects; in the case of the Vietnam Forum, I 
was especially concerned to make sure, because of my 
belief in the University being politically neutral, that the 
speakers would cover all sides. 

(Could it be that the Vice-Chancellor, innocent of 


43 


















suppressing awkward political viewpoints, was just not 
even aware of the existence of a view left of Whitlam, 
and genuinely believed that Whitlam, Santamaria and the 
Minister for the Army represented a ‘fair spread’? An even 
more frightening possibility! Ed.) 

Later: 

Mr. Little: ‘Did it seem to you improper to issue this 
statement on the 12th September after charges had been 
made against my clients?’ 

Vice-Chancellor: ‘No, I was at some pains to draw your 
attention to the middle of paragraph four: “further com¬ 
ment is therefore out of order for the time being.” 
(Comment: In other words it was not improper for Dr. 
Matheson to attack the N.L.F. campaign for aid while 
the matter was sub judice because he was aware that it was 
sub judice. On the other hand it would be most improper 
for anyone to reply! This is fairly typical of Matheson’s 
attitude. The statement in question claimed that: ‘There 
is no such body as the N.L.F. Red Cross’ but that ‘col¬ 
lecting for genuine civil aid was certainly permitted’. This 
gave the impression that the three students being discip¬ 
lined had dishonestly pretended to be collecting medical 
aid when in fact they were not genuinely doing so. When 
he made this statement Dr. Matheson was fully aware that 
the three students were collecting for a fund which had 
been authorized by the Acting Vice-Chancellor as one to 
which ‘no person would object'. The London Doctor’s 
Committee headed by Lord Boyd Orr contained many 
members of the British Government, was recognized as 
a charity and had the co-operation of the Ministry of 
Health in sending medical supplies direct to the N.L.F.’s 
‘Liberation Red Cross’. Despite this knowledge Dr. 
Matheson deliberately used the University position he 
holds in order to discredit the students’ action and effec¬ 
tively call them liars through the press.) 

The Chairman summed up by asserting that since 
Matheson’s directive did not exceed his powers, the 
students were clearly guilty of contravening it, and while 
‘counsel on behalf of the students addressed the Committee 
on a wide range of matters going to university traditions, 
freedom, principles of democracy, parliamentary govern¬ 
ment and many other matters which were found interesting 


44 


and moving . . . they did not appear to us however to go 
effectively in any case, to the primary question that was 
then concerning us, and that was the validity of the Vice- 
Chancellor s order which we have found was contravened 
by these students . . 

Before even considering their verdict the Committee 
made arrangement for Dr. Matheson to be available for 
comment on sentence. 

Dr. Matheson provided the following written statement 
(in advance) . . . ‘This is the first time in my experience 
of the university and indeed, of thirty years of academic 
life, that students have deliberately defied an instruction 
of mine — I do not see how I can carry the responsibility 
for the discipline of the university if this is to be per¬ 
mitted. I The first of many subtle hints at resignation which 
have never actually been carried out, despite"many subse¬ 
quent examples of ‘deliberate defiance’ of Dr. Matheson’s 
instructions.—Ed. ] The question of the wisdom of my 
instructions is not one for the Discipline Committee. Others 
in my position might have taken a different attitude but 
again that is not the matter at issue. Since it has been found 
that these students did deliberately and defiantly disobey 
an instruction of mine in the proper exercise of my 
authority the question must arise of whether they should 
be allowed to remain members of the University . . .' 

After such threats, Matheson concluded with a show 
of clemency: ‘justice will be done if the students were 
severely reprimanded and informed that any future mis¬ 
demeanor on their part would necessarily involve heavier 
punishment.’ 

The Committee dutifully adopted this proposal but 
showing great strength threw in a $20 fine as well. 

Following the trial, sympathy for the Labor Club increased 
and support for Dr. Matheson decreased. He sent off a 
flurry of letters to the papers complaining of the ‘apparent 
impossibility of getting accurate information across to the 
students or anyone else’ and stating that ‘at no time has 
there been any restriction on the campus of the freedom 
of discussion of any matter, political or otherwise’. 
National U (29th September), published by the (then) 


45 










National Union of Australian University Students, com¬ 
mented: 

‘The decision of the Disciplinary Committee was obviously 
the maximum they could impose without an outcry from 
the students, and the minimum they could impose without 
an outcry from the public ... 

Their (the three students) defiance of the Vice-Chancellors 
decree was a deliberate “test” of civil liberties on the campus 

Albeit, the three students and their supporters do have 
the respect of most Monash students for their guts and 
sincerity. For indeed, student apathy is far more dangerous 
than such activities.’ 

The students refused to pay the fines, which were later 
paid by a staff collection initiated by a visiting professor 
from Cambridge, Joan Robinson. 

Since this deliberate test of civil liberties on the campus, 
de facto freedom of political organization (e.g. fund 
raising) as well as the freedom of ‘discussion has been 
recognized by the Administration. While they still do not 
recognize it officially they have been forced to recognize 
it in practice simply by the fact that students have ignored 
their prohibitions. If the Labor Club had not defied the 
ban in 1967 this question could still be in dispute today. 

An interesting sidelight was cast on the whole affair 
when one of the students appealed to the University 
Council against his fine. The Appeals Committee more or 
less admitted many of the points in his appeal but upheld 
the original decision so that Monash would not appear 
‘weak’. The Committee included Mr. J. Woods (Trades 
Hall Council), and Professor Legge of the Monash History 
Department. Its chairman was Sir James Forrest (director 
of numerous companies). The decision after a completely 
closed hearing was unanimous. 

Most fascinating was the response when the appellant 
asked for access to the transcript of the appeal hearing. 
The University Council instead decided to have it officially 
destroyed in his presence. This incredible act reminiscent 
of medieval book-burning was apparently carried out 
because the prosecution had been so thoroughly exposed 
that they did not want to risk the continued existence of 
the transcript, even as a ‘classified'. Administration docu¬ 
ment. Students were not greatly impressed in later years 
when the authorities were to claim that they were defend¬ 


46 


ing the University as a centre for reasoned discourse (and 
book-burning!), and that any injustices in the disciplinary 
proceedings could be taken to the courts (providing that 
Admin hasn't destroyed the evidence first!). 

Ever since the first discipline trials, closed hearings 
have been the inflexible practice at Monash. The Adminis¬ 
tration's ‘Justice' has been of the type which ‘must be 
done, but must not be seen while being done’! 

After the Discipline trial had finished, the Labor Club 
returned to the main question of the Defence Forces 
Protection Act itself. On 2nd October a statement was 
issued by eight members saying that they had sent a total 
of $100 for medical aid to the N.L.F. and that they had 
not sent it through the Red Cross and had therefore 
contravened the Act: 

‘We believe that the Act is not really intended to protect 
our Defence Forces but to repress opposition to the govern¬ 
ment at home. It is becoming increasingly clear that our 
Defence Forces can only be protected by bringing them 
home where they can be used for defence, not aggression. 
The government believes that it can prevent opposition to 
the war by bringing down a few special acts of parliament. 
But they are wrong. The government must learn that so long 
as there are people with conscientious beliefs in Australia, 
their thoughts and actions can not and will not be stifled 
by the passing of a repressive Bill—It should have learnt 
this lesson in Vietnam where it has employed the use of not 
merely Acts of Parliament but bombs, bullets and napalm 
against the people of Vietnam, and yet these people have 
continued to stand up for their rights.’ 

The Commonwealth Police duly ‘investigated’ but 
resorted to the dodge of finding there was ‘insufficient 
evidence'. Accordingly the students sent signed statements 
and proof (a copy of the receipt for $200 they had sent to 
the N.L.F.) to the Commonwealth Police. This was 
reported (including a photograph of the receipt) in the 
Herald (18th October). 

This time the Attorney-General decided that no offence 
had been committed because the aid was being sent to 
the London Doctors Committee and this had not been 
officially proscribed under the Act. (In fact it was an 
offence as the students had admitted that their money was 
being sent ‘with a view to it being made available’ to the 
N.L.F.) The Governor in Council then made an official 


47 








‘proclamation’ that the London Committee and the 
‘Liberation Red Cross’ were bodies described under the 
Act, and it was announced that in future anyone sending 
aid in this way would be prosecuted. 

Subsequently about 70 to 100 people sent postal notes 
for $1 each to the London Committee but no action was 
taken. Since that time the Act has effectively been a dead 
letter so that looking back it can be said that the campaign 
for Aid to the N.L.F. was a complete and unqualified 
success. 

OVERVIEW 

Probably the most significant thing about the campaign 
is that despite the massive attempts to whip up an hysterical 
public reaction against both the N.L.F. aiders and the 
whole anti-war movement, the Government campaign 
simply fell fiat. Had right-wingers attempted to support 
the Nazis during the war against fascism they would with 
perfect justification have swiftly been smashed by violent 
public reaction. Even during the Korean War and the 
Malayan ‘emergency’, which were just as much imperialist 
wars of aggression as Vietnam but were not seen in this 
light by many people, it would have been politically 
impossible for the left-wingers to have publicly organized 
support for the ‘enemy’. Nevertheless in 1967 it was pos¬ 
sible to organize such support. As was pointed out by the 
D.L.P., the students were attempting to establish a new 
‘right’ — the right to support an enemy with whom the 
Government is at war. They succeeded in establishing this 
right — because most Australians did not see it as a 
patriotic war or in any sense as ‘our war’ or ‘Australia’s 
War’ but as ‘their war’ — ‘America’s war’ and the 
‘Government's war’. No Australian would take kindly to 
aid and comfort being given to Australia’s enemies but 
in fact, as was proved by the lack of real support for the 
Government’s campaign, most Australians did not sec the 
Vietnamese as their ‘enemy’. Passage of the special Act 
of Parliament did not mean that the government had 
succeeded in preventing this new ‘right’ being established 
— on the contrary, it served to underline that the right 
had been established — not only because the law, like 
Dr. Matheson’s directive, proved to be a complete ‘paper 


48 


tiger’ but also because it had been necessary in the first 
place. There are three ways in which the Labor Club’s 
campaign could have been defeated. First, if the ‘out¬ 
raged public opinion' at Monash and outside had forced 
the Club to give up. The Second, if the Labor Club 
leadership had decided to ‘tactically’ water down their 
position to ‘humanitarian’ support for the ‘victims of the 
war in N.L.F. areas in Vietnam. This position was 
urged on the club by the revisionist Communist Party 
and had a certain appeal amongst some sections of the 
Club. It was backed up by comments in the newspapers 
that ‘of course nobody would object to purely medical 
aid’ and by Professor Andrew’s action in donating to 
the medical fund while banning financial aid. If this 
approach had been adopted then the campaign would 
have been defeated — the ‘right to support the enemy' 
when the government is waging an unjust war of aggres¬ 
sion would not have been asserted and the range of 
‘legitimate’ anti-war sentiment would have continued to 
have been contained within the bounds of anti-Communism 
and of support for aims, if not the methods, of the U.S. 
and its allies. It would have been some time before the 
‘mainstream’ anti-war movement in Australia began to 
see itself as allied with the Vietnamese rather than a ‘loyal 
opposition’. 

However, despite some manoeuvring to forestall an 
interna) coup and despite the decision not to defy the ban 
on collecting non-medical aid at Monash, the club did not 
water down its position. Its propaganda continued to 
affirm unconditional political support for the N.L.F. victory 
over the Australian and American invaders and collections 
were continued for both humanitarian medical aid on 
campus and direct financial aid from private donors (not 
on campus) to help the Vietnamese win. This stand cut 
right through the prevailing anti-Communist atmosphere 
and forced people to think about what the war was really 
about. It eventually forced the ‘official’ anti-war movement 
to abandon its slogan ‘Stop the Bombing, Negotiate’ 
(which really did not actually oppose the w'ar itself and 
recognized that the U.S. had a right to ‘negotiate the 
future of Vietnam’), and to adopt a position of working 
for the defeat of U.S. war aims. As a result the govern- 


49 







ment’s legislation was a failure. So much a failure that 
today collections are being openly carried out, at Monash 
and elsewhere, and it would now be politically impossible 
for either the Government or the University authorities 
to prosecute successfully! (Monash students wishing to 
make donations can give them to the Worker-Student 
Alliance, others can send them to its letter box c/o 
Union.) 

In 1966 it would probably have been politically impos¬ 
sible to publicly support the Vietnamese. The Government 
was actually able to win an election campaign with 
propaganda using such cretinous phrases as ‘the red cancer 
of communism’ and the ‘threat from the north’. Today 
these phrases are just standing jokes, and the whole atmo¬ 
sphere has changed. The failure of the ‘Defence Force 
Protection Act’ probably marked the turning point in that 
change — a change which, under the impetus of the Indo- 
Chinese people’s smashing defeats to U.S. aggression there, 
has now gone so far that the majority of Australian people 
oppose Government policies on the war and 100,000 were 
willing to march in Melbourne during the first Moratorium. 
Dr. Matheson would not dare try to enforce his ban on 
aid collections at Monash today and it would be ‘politically 
impossible’ for anyone to organize public support for the 
U.S. war effort at Monash anymore. Last time the C.M.F. 
tried to recruit on campus it was bodily removed by angry 
students and had its weapons confiscated, it hasn’t been 
allowed to return since! Readers should be aware of the 
considerable change in atmosphere since 1967 in con¬ 
sidering the impact of the N.L.F. campaign and events 
at Monash. 

Dr. Matheson no longer expresses ‘concern’ to make 
sure that Whitlam and Santamaria can dominate a Vietnam 
forum. He is more ‘concerned’ these days to protect pro- 
U.S. speakers at Monash from being driven off the 
campus, in the way that Nixon’s ‘special advisor on youth’ 
was in 1971. Both the suppression of left-wingers in 1971 
and the protection of right-wingers in 1971 were justified 
in terms of the University's neutrality. Nevertheless, the 
shift from offensive to defensive is significant. Times have 
changed! 


50 



The Mock Crucifixion 1968 


1968 marked a turning point in student affairs at Monash. 
The issue of the relationship between State and University 
still smouldered, and blazed up brightly over the affair 
of the. Mock Crucifixion; it burnt even more fiercely when 
the Administration attempted to extend its powers of 
discipline over students’ off-campus activities, and finally 
led to the establishment of the Campaign for University 
Freedom. C.U.F. was the first ‘broad front* organization 
at Monash. By now, students were beginning to realize 
that it was imperative that they should act together to 
control their own affairs. 

The Monash Association of Students was born, replacing 
the conservative and largely powerless S.R.C., by a parti¬ 
cipate! y democratic structure, in which all major decisions 
were to be made by student general meetings. Thus a 
feeling of the political responsibility of the whole student 
body was generated, and the student movement at Monash 
was considerably broadened. 


51 








The most interesting aspect of 1968’s celebrated Mock 
Crucifixion was the reaction to it. For the actual perform¬ 
ance — though a spontaneous and somewhat inventive 
jaunt, and though great fun at the time — is, in retrospect, 
a bit boring. The political importance of this otherwise 
trivial issue lay in the close, immediate cooperation 
between the University and the State. 

The Mock Crucifixion took place on Thursday, 11th 
April. A student ‘Christ’ staggered through the Union 
carrying a cardboard cross, pursued by student ‘Romans 
with whips, and in the rear a student played ‘Onward 
Christian Soldiers’ badly on a tuba. The procession made 
its way to the rock-pile by the ornamental pond where 
the ‘crucifixion’ took place. 

Truth published its outraged account soon after. At first 
the students involved were simply amused. But then the 
reaction against them began to grow claws. Critics emerged 
who displayed their displeasure in varying degrees. 

There were those who thought the affair was disgustingly 
blasphemous, and the actors should have been hung, 
drawn and subdivided. These wonderful Christian souls 
demanded public admonishment. There were others who 
weren’t personally offended but who thought that the 
scene must have offended others. It was largely this group 
that produced a spate of pretentious and uninformed 
articles of the type labelled ‘Monash in Search of a Good 
Name’ and ‘Normal Bounds of Protest’. And finally, there 
were those who ‘agreed’ with it, but thought the show 
was very unsubtle in execution. 

; There were also a few people who actually liked and 
supported the action. But it was after the Truth article 
that the fun really started. Soon after the authorities 
decided that the way was clear to issue proceedings against 
the ratbags involved. They sent the students the following 
request: 

‘Dear Mr. —, would you please report to the Council 
Room, University Offices Building today, Thursday 2nd* 
May, 1968, at 4.00 p.m. Yours sincerely, J. D. Butchart, 
Academic Register.’ 

In the Council Room, however, the students found they 
were not confronted by an academic matter, but a couple 
of C.I.B. smoothies who with greasy grins, paper threats 


52 


and good intentions eked (or oinked?) out sufficient infor¬ 
mation from a sufficient number of people to charge 
fourteen of the students with offensive behaviour. 

The Administration had jumped at the opportunity to 
bow to the wishes of the State. Monash already had the 
reputation of being radical, and the Mock Crucifixion was 
an opportunity to attack and divide students, aided by 
the barrage of press invective. The Administration not 
only cooperated with the police by providing rooms for 
them, but was not even honest enough to inform the 
students that they were to be interrogated. \ 

Then followed the punchline of the whole joke — the 
infamous trial. The police felt it was necessary to be repre¬ 
sented by a Q.C. The students, with legal representation 
provided by M.A.S. for their part, gained moral support 
at a party held in a nearby house during the trial. The 
magistrate, as impartial as any, told the Court that as soon 
as he had read that there had been a mock crucifixion he 
had read nothing further about it, so he was satisfied that 
he was not prejudiced! He did not explain what prejudice 
eaused him to put down his newspaper on merely reading 
the terrible headline! His conclusion was that the charged 
students had good intentions, and benevolently awarded 
one-year bonds to the fourteen. 

The connivance between the University and the police 
(rather than the charges themselves) prompted students to 
hold one of the first brief sit-ins in the Administration 
building, in support of the charged students. 


53 














1 






/ 





54 


The S.R.C. Crumbles 


1967 was the year that the Students’ Representative 
Council lost its nerve. Up till that year, students had 
annually elected a 28 man S.R.C. which each year had 
nominated more than more representatives to the Univer¬ 
sity committees, generated more and more paper work 
and spent its time in the normal ‘student leader’ pastime 
of political infighting. In retrospect, it is not in the least 
bit surprising that such an isolated group should lose its 
nerve at the first appearance of real student participation 
and should finally crumble when students realized what 
it really stood for. 

Over the past year, students connected with student 
government had been increasingly dissatisfied with the 
level of student control of their own affairs. Annually each 
student had paid a Union fee of about $40 which paid 
for the Cafeteria, Clubs, Sports and the S.R.C. All this 
was administered by a Union Board comprised mainly 
of representatives of Admin and a small minority of 


55 









students, and the latter were not elected by the student 
body, but nominated by the S.R.C. 

The President of the S.R.C., Jim Falk, pointed to the 
dangers of this composition in his introduction to the 1967 
S.R.C. manual: 

‘A potential weakness of the Monash S.R.C.’s relationship 
with the rest of the University is that it receives its funds 
from a “Union Board” which has a minority student member¬ 
ship.’ 

In mid 1967 a small group consisting of four ex- 
Presidents of the S.R.C. and the editor of Lot's Wife 
decided to raise the question with the students. They 
quickly gained support for the idea and on 10th May, 
1967. about 200 students attended the first ever ‘General 
Meeting of the Union to ask that the Union be run more 
democratically. Print reported the proceedings: 

‘At the Union General Meeting last week the S.R.C. 
Executive moved an amendment to one of the motions 
before the meeting. The amendment suggested the S.R.C. 
was more capable of choosing student representatives than 
the student body itself. 

‘When this was justifiably defeated the Resident Execu¬ 
tive correctly inferred that the students had no confidence 
in them. 

‘They decided to make a desperate bid to increase 
confidence in the S.R.C. and presented a list of demands 
to the Vice-Chancellor, intending to resign if the demands 
were not met.’ 

In the meantime some hard thinking on the representa¬ 
tive nature of the S.R.C. was going on. Surveys were made 
to determine student attitudes to the S.R.C. and the results 
were highly unfavourable. Finally, a motion to suspend 
the activities of the S.R.C. was placed on notice by Gordon 
and Falk to be discussed at the meeting on Wednesday, 
17th May. 

The Resident Executive met with Dr. Matheson on 
Monday, 15th May and whilst he refused to recognize the 
S.R.C. as the legal voice of student opinion and take 
notice of its submissions he was opposed to the S.R.C. 
suspension motion and would do everything in his power 
to ‘strengthen the hand’ of the President, P. J. Hansen. 

When the S.R.C. met on Wednesday, 17th May, they 


56 


readily agreed that they had failed to represent the 
students, and passed the following motion: 

‘This Council agrees that 

(i) The S.R.C. does not have the support or interest of the 
students; 

(ii) The S.R.C. is not representative of students, taking into 
account its actions, the number of people who vote in 
the S.R.C. elections and its lack of strong representation 
on University bodies; 

(iii) the S.R.C. does not have the confidence of the Vice- 
Chancellor or other University staff and officials.’ 

However the more right wing members of the S.R.C.. 
led by a ferocious speech by the Warden of the Union, 
Mr. Graham Sweeney, intimidated the moderates and the 
motion: 

‘that the S.R.C. does from the closing of this meeting suspend 
all operations in order to allow students to decide, at a 
General Meeting of Students, whether they want an S.R.C. 
or not, and if so, what sort of representative body, or bodies, 
they feel would serve them the best.’ 

was strongly defeated. Instead the S.R.C. decided to hold 
a weekend conference on the problem. At this point the 
three member ‘left group’ on the S.R.C. resigned, and 
issued the following statement. 

‘Because the decision which the S.R.C. has made is utterly 
opposed to participatory democracy, we have been forced 
to the belief that the present structure of the S.R.C. is 
incapable of reform from within. Therefore we resign from 
this S.R.C. in the hope that the student body will dictate 
for the future a more democratic form of student govern¬ 
ment.' 

Over the next few weeks a plan for restructuring student 
government at Monash, so that ail interested students 
could take part in the decisions that affected them, was 
mapped out by Falk and Price. The plan was put to the 
S.R.C. weekend conference which adopted it in principle 
and expanded some of the details. The Conference recom¬ 
mended restructuring the S.R.C. into a Committee of 
Representatives comprising students directly elected to 
University committees, a Public Affairs Committee whose 
members would be elected on political platforms and an 
administrative Council that would carry out the day-to 
day administration. All decisions would be finally subject 
to change by student general meetings. 

The Labor Club refused to take part in the Conference 
following their policy that the students, not the student 


57 






gove^ng' body UW ^ ^ ° f the student 

sSt ^* 2ft 

to * Z Jt^s 

srE f~ ssrs s,rs: 

SS Si T^S™" of 150 s,uden,s ' The UbOT 

Jructur VV e a of e thl n s e R r c er fro S m Ue a S h ,hat a, ‘t mp, l ‘° .^ange the 
failure dVnamiC fr ° m lhe SlUd ^ boVwlre" doomed""^ 

craTs^in'“fie ffi^ihev beinB Tl"* by the ^reau- 

CwTaUI te , R[ S F W c7 m pS l,ad0Wed by ,he Lab °' 

daleffoMhe's JT 0r , CI ,“ b had d “i* d "<>1 1° run candi. 
uaies tor the b.R.C. elections, the S.R.C oroved far mnre 

SroTtesT^'" 8 * Called ° ver aid ' d ^ Nx a FThe 
lhe surface of o,S™, P o S ?" a “ veness d,s “Ppeared below 
ChrSfv tSt' aC,,V ‘ ,y - ,0 res ” rta “ again at,., ,he 

the death of the S.R.C. 

establish** reforms' gSlngf ^TrT 'ST* *? 
students were elected to » r •£ and several 

gZ£X?l fj ePauges recommended iy «S3 

e-eS'oTa SrAE 

teeommcnded that ,he poliS aS of he 
S.R^C. should be handed over to an experimental Public 
Affairs Committee. But before anything couU he Hnno l 
setup the studems were shocked* 


58 


of a proposed new draft discipline statute: — a highly 
irregular way of promulgating new university regulations! 

The article appeared in The Age on 15th May, and a 
general meeting of students was held on 16th May. The 
meeting voted for the first ever sit-in in the Admin 
Building. The S.R.C. met that night, but spent the whole 
evening heatedly discussing the report of the Presidential 
Select Committee, while the right-wing members of the 
S.R.C. tried desperately to stall the meeting until the proxy 
vote of a reform supporter expired. Elliot Gingold, Vice- 
President of the S.R.C. said in an open letter to all 
members of the S.R.C. the next day, 

‘This must be the first time in any university that a 
“governing” body, meeting the evening after a mass 
demonstration, neglected to discuss it. Not that it mattered, 
any decision made by a body of the calibre displayed by 
the S.R.C. could not contribute anything. 

‘If S.R.C. members are going to carry on in the way 
they did at the meeting, they should resign. If they did 
not, the student body will deal with them the way they 
deserve.’ 

The S.R.C. proved irrelevant to events in the forth¬ 
coming month. An open, united front, ‘Campaign for 
University Freedom’, was formed to resist the proposed 
discipline statute, and rallies were held daily in the upstairs 
foyer of the Unipn. S.R.C. members found that they had 
no empathy with the students they purported to represent 
and that the students themselves had seized the initiative. 

When the S.R.C. met on the night of Thursday, 13th 
June, it was in an atmosphere of complete depression. It 
was clear to many members that the S.R.C. had been 
totally unable to take any leadership over the discipline 
issue and that the students had taken the matter into their 
own hands. The students had lost confidence in the S.R.C. 
and the S.R.C. in their own effectiveness. After a long and 
heated debate they decided to disband and ask the Students 
what sort of organization they wanted. The next day the 
following notice was circulated: 

‘S.R.C. TO DISBAND 14.6.68 
At its meeting last night, the Monash S.R.C. decided to 
disband itself within the next 14 days, during which time a 
student general meeting will be held to discuss the future 
of student government at this University. 


59 













This meeting will be able to adopt new forms of student 
government, or if it wishes, continue with the present 
structure. 

Submissions for this meeting, and for a special edition of 
Lot’s Wife, should be handed in to the S.R.C. office if possible 
by Monday, 17th June, 1968. 

Noel Lethborg, 

President, _ 

Monash 8th S.R.C/ 

me Age quoted Lethborg as saying the ‘discipline issue 
has shown (the S.R.C.) to be totally unrepresentative’. 

M.A.S. IS BORN 

The special edition of Lot's Wife, published on the 21st 
June, centred largely on the so-called ‘Price-Falk Pro¬ 
posals basically the proposals that had been adopted 
by the Weekend Conference in late 1967 but with increased 
emphasis on the total subservience of all student repre¬ 
sentative organizations to the students. Any issue would 
be open to discussion by interested students at a General 
Meeting of Students, and their decision would bind officers 
and committees in the new structure. Other proposals, 
ranging from changes in the S.R.C. to the radical proposal 
of no student government at all, were circulated. 

A great deal of discussion occurred over the next few 
days and a General Meeting was called on Tuesday, 25th 
June. On the Tuesday morning, the Price-Falk proposals 
came out in the form of a 6 page roneoed set of guidelines 
called 4 A Plan for a New Students’ Organization’. It was 
signed by six members of the S.R.C. including the Presi¬ 
dent, Noel Lethborg, and the Vice-President, Elliot 
Gingold. 

The Liberal Club newsletter, Stand, came out sup¬ 
porting the Price-Falk reform. 

A student representative body is one which should positively 
represent the student body, be an organization with which 
the students can identify themselves, and above all, be a body 
that can carry out its respective functions efficiently and 
effectively. The S.R.C. as we had it, failed to carry out these 
functions ... 

In the new system, student general meetings will play a 
greater role in the expression of student opinion and act as 
a system of recall for malfunctioning representatives. In the 
recent past, such meetings have become excellent vehicles of 
expression of student opinion . . .’ 

The Labor Club had agreed to support the Price-Falk 


60 


reform provided that the Public Affairs Committee was to 
be included in the proposal; the D.L.P. Club decided to 
oppose it, and they had their speakers mustered for the 

meeting. , . . A « 

At 1 o’clock about 2000 students crowded into the 
upstairs foyer of the Student Union and in an atmosphere 
of intense excitement the debate on the first motion began. 
The first motion, moved by Jim Falk, seconded by Elliot 
Gingold, stated the two basic proposed changes: 

‘that students who represent the general student body on 
University policy-making committees should be directly 
elected and that any form of student government should be 
based on . . . the principle of student participation. 

After twenty minutes of debate, the motion was carried 

overwhelmingly. n 

Next followed the crucial motion to dissolve the b.K.U. 
To be carried, it required two thirds of those present to 
vote for it. It was moved by John Price. After a further 
twenty minutes of debate, it was put to the vote and there 
was an outburst of applause and cheering as people realized 
that out of the 2000 people present, only about thirty 
were voting against the motion. The meeting then 
adjourned till Thursday. 

On the Thursday morning, the D.L.P. Club and ex- 
Treasurer of the S.R.C. made a last ditch stand and 
produced a leaflet entitled l ls Monash Controlled by a 

Radical Violent Group?' It said: 

‘Is this the same group who rioted outside the U.S. Consulate 
in Commercial Road, and had some of its members bailed 
out of the South Melbourne lock-up by Ted McCormack 
of the Waterside Workers’ Federation ... 

You may be prepared to attend general meetings now 
but what about third term and the vacation period that 
amounts to half the year. If you don't want to attend these 
meetings the radical minority will hold in their own hands 
the power to decide “majority” opinion ... 

What is needed is a cross-section of specially elected 
faculty representatives . . / . , 

The students, however, were unimpressed by the 
D.L.P.’s smaller annually elected S.R.C.-type body and 
opted for a chance to make their own decisions. By an 
overwhelming majority they adopted the Price-Falk pro¬ 
posals with a few amendments. 

The new body was called the ‘Monash Association of 
Students’, M.A.S. The Public Affairs Committee, P.A.C., 


61 








Z a iy. S 1Z at an ° ther General Meetin g on Thursday, 11th 
AN EVALUATION OF M A S 

students as well as by Admin MAS w V . a f h ma f lty ° f 

*«*Z£ the 

speak or decide for ? ioun T tT 'T < J ua,ified to 
^students 

(intended™ "beTnurel.^"istrative Executive 
mittee of Representative^ . t j ministrat > v e body), the Com- 
who had bee P n elected fn !r looseco ™ mi »ee of all students 
Public Affair" Committe «), and the 

fat quKdoos -«<- 

During the formation of M A S all 
were used to try to forestall’ .r; ’ sorts ° f scare tactics 
argued that there would be mil change .‘ Some students 
no-one wotffd voTe „o-one " U .? S elections and tha ‘ 
Meetings, no-one would stanH ) vou d c . ome to General 
third term the whde thinJ^ for P° u slt,on ^ and that by 
anarchy. These argument" 8 WOU,d h / ve lapsed into 

S.R.c/had struggled to find 2fiT . ^ Whereas the 
MAS filled nif'itc ... P e ople to nominate for it 
m./va. nned all its positions w th ease tn « V ’ 

65 people nominated for the 15 man p ? ? fi ^ St - year ’ 
second, over 100. Over its fir C \ of” P A C and ln the 
General Meetings grew to an estimator y f 3rs the size of 
cipants for importfnMssues ° f ab ° Ut 5000 P ar!i ' 

^SLT:rArz^v a , m v n6 mo 

M.A.S. At both referenda, an alterna- 


62 


live scheme — the ‘Gibson-Watson Proposal’ — was put 
up The proposal would have had the effect of forcing 
all M.A.S decisions to a referendum, thereby hideously 
delaying the whole process of decision-making. Both times 
the ‘Gibson-Watson Proposal’ was soundly defeated. A 
proposal to return to an S.R.C.-type ‘Student Parliament 
also gained little support apart from the right-wing Monash 
University Society which put it up. . \ 

During the first two years, M.A.S. proved a dynamic 
vehicle for expression by students and was sufficiently 
elastic to provide the facilities needed for the many issues 
that arose. That it was effective was emphasized by the 
fact that Dr. Matheson used every available opportunity to 
try to have it replaced by a more impotent S.R.C.-type 

structure. , . . 

Dr. Matheson’s attacks have been two-pronged, that 
the students are manipulated by a small minority of po id¬ 
eal agitators at the meetings, and that meetings are too 

small to be ‘representative’. . , . „ 

The charge of manipulation is based on the mistaken 
premise that the only discussion that goes on about issues 
occurs at meetings, and that the students do not have the 
ability to make up their own minds. It ignores the interest, 
the discussions and the broadsheets, the announcements 
bv the Admin closed-circuit T.V. broadcasts and other 
forms of dialogue that occur before important General 
Meetings. Besides, this charge has onjy been levelled when 
motions unpopular with the Admin are passed; the charge 
was not, for instance, levelled at the meeting early in 1970 
which defeated a motion condemning Professor Westfold 
and the Science Faculty Board for refusing to admit 
Langer to M.Sc. Prelim. Indeed Dr. Matheson himself, 
when he views it opportune calls general meetings of the 

The charge that meetings are small is inaccurate for all 
major issues. As student interest increases in an issue 
the size of previously so called ‘unrepresentative meeting 
increases dramatically. But this is in any event irrelevant 
within the philosophy of M.A.S. It is irrelevant to the 
principle that M.A.S. must remain as it was originally 
intended — the servant of all students interested in any 
given issue. 


63 




















Admin s attempts to reduce M.A.S.’s power have not 
all been merely vocal. A clause in the Act establishing 
Monash was suddenly ‘discovered’ in 1969. The clause 
states that University monies may be used only for ‘Univer- 
sity purposes' and the Administration has used it to stop 

s P endin g money on a number of activities of which 
they disapprove. 

ovfr U rhp nt AH r ° teSt , h f S b - Cen S,OW,y £ atherin S momentum 
over the Administrations attempts, and in late 1971 the 

allow ^A^: 01 ? 011 3gr ! e c t0 3 com P romise that it would 

Whrth M '.k ;S ' t0 Spend 5% of Its bud g et as it wished. 
Whether this compromise is implemented will depend both 

on i Ul ?.T rS,ty ^°V nc ' and the State Government and 
on the solidarity of the students. 

In early 1971 the Labor Club ran two candidates for 

A E A S 1 ' fi 3 h Ve E f f cutive on a Pohcy of turning the 
A.E. intcf a fighting left-wing body. The right also ran 
several candidates, rather more surreptiously Both 
attempts were defeated by students who voted for candi¬ 
dates who stood on platforms of keeping the AE's role 
purely administrative. S le 

The right have consistently tried to replace MAS 

the^stSdems a Th nta d y ‘^h e ^ whidl W0U ' d ‘ re P resent: 
tne students. The idea that a person who is elected at an 

sS a on beS th f7h P °f SeSSeS S ° me f ° rm of mandate ’ to 
speak on behalf of the electorate on all issues and to spend 

h “ ecs is a deep-rooted par. K 

sloean 6 statue Th?'T d , re P re ? enIalive ' has achieved 
M A S tho, P e radlcal P artlcl Patory principle behind 
h!'th« ’ h ! 3 ^ ontrov ersial issues should be resolved 
> se interested in them, is hard to appreciate without 

S ne Thn ng thC reSU ' tS -° f e3ch P hilos °P h y and comparing 
? many Ways m which the structure of MAS 8 
Drhfefnll f 1 c °"X entl . onaI government derive from this 
p inciple of participation. Instead of elections for general 
representative’ positions, all elections in the Mas 
system are held for specific positions, the nature of which 
out - so ‘ hat the candidates can be compared for 
that job on the basis of their policies and experience 

sJ e . C °; nmittees and officers of M.A.S. are servants of 
Student General Meetings and instead of laying down 


64 


policy, they draft policy for General Meetings to consider, 

alter, accept or reject. . ' _ . .. . 

The essential feature of M.A.S. is the General Meeting, 
and the Right have continuously tried to find ways to 
destroy or discredit it. So far they have not succeeded 

The Left, on the other hand, has supported and worked 
through M.A.S., though it has had criticisms of its struc¬ 
ture. Some members would prefer to see M.A.S. more 
decentralized, with small faculty meetings a few days 
before the large General Meetings. This, they feel, would 
give more students an opportunity to discuss the issues 
involved. With the increasing size of Monash and of the 
quorums for General Meetings, many students are con¬ 
fused and frustrated by the bureauoratic way in which 
Meetings are often conducted. Clearly the Left supports 
the principle of participatory democracy, but would prefer 
to see the M.A.S. version extended. They consider this 
especially necessary in 1972, when M.A.S. will be under 
attack from the National Civic Council through its campus 
‘front’, the D.L.P. Club (at present calling itself the 
‘Monash Democrats’). 

[Since this chapter was written, the attack predicted 
has taken place, with Supreme Court writs being taken out 
by right-wingers Keith Harvey and Mark LaPirow, claim¬ 
ing that M.A.S. is not a legally constituted body and that 
the University has no right to distribute funds to it. They 
have sought a freezing of the M.A.S. funds and an order 
to pay back to the University all funds which have been 
distributed previously to M.A.S. The only action taken 
by M.A.S. so far has been to dismiss Harvey and LaPirow 
from their positions on P.A.C. Nothing further has been 
heard of the writ since. A similar writ at La Trobe Univer¬ 
sity has succeeded in the Supreme Court resulting in a 
freezing of some S.R.C. funds.—Ed.l 

During 1971, M.A.S. started to show a weakening of 
student support for less important meetings. The quorum 
of over 500 students for a meeting was not achieved for 
about one third of the meetings. Indeed M.A.S., con¬ 
ceived in a time of crisis, was beginning to show real 
problems in times when student political involvement was 
primarily in off-campus issues. 

M.A.S. has, of course, safeguards built into its structure 


65 





















commSeeTp.A h C d CaR°Ind AE 1 h^h' The three 

sufficient power to maintain ct a ’’ between them 
IncCly toprovid" 

s 'ty Administration. Thev do n n , S ^ dents t0 t * le Univer- 
press statements without a r'" 01 ^ ave P ower to make 
would be handicapped* 2 ^ commeS Mceting ’ and the y 
. However, to rely on the nr? , g on exter nal matters, 
situation would be extremely d/ftr f structure m such a 
sophy behind M.A.S It would “ ctlve t0 the basic philo- 
the bureaucratic power vested in Thl^ the growth of 
and would lead to the alienation of tt commit tees 
representational machine™ « / the studen ts from their 

the old S.R.C. It would eat £T" Ch f acteristic of 

Pnnaple of decision-maS by tL cf'd ° f M A S ’ the 

The reason for the Dresenf r, y U i e stude nts interested 
for meetings were raised fr^ prob,em ls that the quorums 
of the student popS/' T 5 T per S 

a ^ ter considerable agitation h ^f s done during 
that the very controversial rW • ^ l !? e ^'^ht, to ensure 
time were made by meeting! thTh ? u g made at the 
advertised and to ensure thatlhe i^n ha . d been ad equately 
was understood. 1 " lm P or tance of these issues 

Whilst quorums of this size nw 
controversial issues, they not fnr P S r ° Pnate for highly 
A possible solution to the nrohlprrf^ 1° day maf ters. 
the original idea of having so™ r° U d be to return to 
lecture theatres and to t Ge " e £ al Meetings in 

meetings: ‘controversial’ General A wo d,fferen t levels of 
General Meetings. The forme? ISf^ 85 and ‘ ord inary’ 
five per cent of the student body and!^ 6 3 quorum °f 
of, say, 50 students. ‘Ordinary^ Op! ^ w ter ’ a quorum 

ca ?SV A ? f ™ "* ***? 

to be extremeiy^cce^fu/dn 11 - 1 COI ? tinues - h has proved 
been less effective during more'anipf^ S ° f Crisis ’ but has 
are not necessarily inherent to fhp K ' mes ' The Problems 
behind the system 5 m av V bas,c P™ciples that lie 

,her ‘ l,ey WiU * 1" the S™ d f aj 


66 


The ‘Campaign For University 
Freedom’ 


At the beginning of 1968 many Monash students were 
disturbed when one of their members was called before 
the Discipline Committee to answer the following charge: 
‘That while a student of this university you did commit 
acts of misconduct in that you did commit offences against 
the law of the State of Victoria, namely, that on the 27th 
day of December 1967 you did smoke Indian hemp and 
that on the 26th day of January 1968 you were in possession 
of a drug of addiction, for which offences you were on the 
thirteenth day of February 1968 convicted in the Court of 
Petty Sessions of Elsternwick/ 

Although the charge did not relate to a political action 
(and was later dropped), it was clearly the thin edge of 
the wedge. It was now only a small step to extend the 
principle of disciplining students for off campus activities 
to punish again those students who had already incurred 
the wrath of the State for ‘offences’ committed in anti¬ 
government demonstrations. 


67 














Print wrote: 

‘Ultimately (the student) is not being tried by Dr. 
Matheson and his Kangaroo Court, but by Sir Henry Bolte 
and our hick state politicians who hold the financial strings 
that are attached to the gavels of judges on the Discipline 
Committee’. 

The point was emphasized when another student who 
had given her address as Deakin Hall, Monash University 
when she was arrested at a demonstration against the 
gaoling of a conscientious objector in N.S.W. was rebuked 
by Dr. Matheson. His letter warned her that she must 
not involve the ‘name’ of the University in any such politi¬ 
cal activity because it would damage its good name. Whilst 
no penalty was imposed, this laid a precedent for future 
charges arising out of political activity. 

The crunch came on Wednesday, 15th May when The 
Age carried an article headed ‘Monash Move on Discipline’ 
which began: ‘Monash University is considering intro¬ 
ducing moves to punish students for acts of misconduct 
outside the University’, and went on to announce that: 
‘University sources said the draft was drawn up following 
Monash s inability last year to discipline students over 
Pro-National Liberation Front activities . . From this it 
appeared plain that the main intent of the new regulation 
was to crack down on mounting student anti-war and anti- 
Government activity. 

Student reaction to the news was swift. By lunchtime 
rallies were being held in the cafeterias and students spent 
Wednesday afternoon organizing a meeting for the next 
day. 

next day Thursday, 16th May, a broadsheet entitled 
A Call to Action was distributed around campus inviting 
students to attend a general meeting, called by the S.R.C., 
to consider the issue. 

Ptint described the proposed regulations as ‘a sop to 
forces outside the University . . . designed to make it 
easier for the Administration to punish students for actions 
which may offend the “powers that be”.’ 

At 1 o clock 2000 students gathered in the upstairs foyer 
tor the meeting. They were addressed by many students 
and staff members. The meeting voted unanimously ‘that 
double jeopardy (punishment for off-campus offences) 


68 


was intolerable: that attempts by the University to regulate 
off-campus behaviour of students was intolerable; that a 
new Discipline Statute is required with clear definitions and 
specific “rules of conduct” and that . . . 50% of the future 
discipline committee consist of students.’ After these 
principle motions were passed, the meeting voted over¬ 
whelmingly for a sit-in in the Administration Building to 
present the demands of the meeting to Dr. Matheson. This 
was the first of the Monash sit-ins, and lasted until late in 
the afternoon. The press reported the sit-in, but could not 
evoke ‘impressions’ of riot, anarchy and violence that they 
have since associated with all sit-ins and occupations. A 
new organization called C.U.F. (Campaign for University 
Freedom) had been set up to co-ordinate activities and to 
carry on the struggle against the repressive new discipline 
regulations. Its first broadsheet published the next day said 

of the sit-in and the mass meeting: 

‘We. the students have adopted a new principle: that student- 
administration relations should be conducted on the basis 
of direct, mass student participation and negotiation,^ and 
should not be muffled, misdirected and “conveyed*' by 
“student leaders", S.R.C. “experts" or whatever.’ 

Print (17th May) summed up the consequences of the 
direct action: 

Or Else You've Got To Stay All Night ' 

This decision (to sit-in) reflects the fact that students are no 
longer prepared to accept sweet promises of “consultation 
or S.R.C. waffle about “compromise". We have begun to 
say that we are entitled to a voice in running this university 
and that if we are not given one, we are prepared to take 
it. If Council once again decided to ignore student opinions, 
they are going to be confronted by student action. They are 
going to learn that this is our university, not theirs, and that 
if we decide not to accept their decisions, then these decisions 
cannot be implemented. If Matheson attempts to discipline 
students for non-university .activities next term, he will not 
be confronted by a protest ... he will be confronted by a 
rebellion. If we hold another sit-in, we will not be taking 
every care to avoid damaging university property or interfer¬ 
ing with work and we will not be leaving quietly after 
debating the issues in order to wait for a reply, as we did 
yesterday. We will have received our reply if they go 
ahead with off-campus discipline and we will be entitled to 
be angry. 

IF WE SIT IN WE WILL STAY IN.’ 

The morning papers featured the sit-in as an interesting 
event, almost a ‘human interest’ item, and reported Dr. 


69 










Matheson’s patronizing comment that if he were a student 
he would have marched too’. He ‘praised’ the sit-in, but he 
said that students placed a ‘wrong interpretation’ on 
the new regulations. The next day, Friday, 17th May a 
broadsheet replied: J 

‘Wrong interpretation??? How else can vou intemret a 
statute that says a student may be disciplined for off-campus 
actmty ^prejudicial to the university or any of its members” 
it this wide phrase means anything, it is as we interpreted it 
■ ■ . it means a crack down on students. 

• lu. d i? n 1 want . Walhcsi>n to march with us, all we ask 
‘, . he St ° P J‘yj n J us tflin E s to march about: and if he 
Dnbtiri °h{°"i C -, UF he , should first stand up to Bolte's 
hfiJi ?00% ?Ckma ' • • he would find students supporting 

Friday was the end of term and students left campus 
wondering what the outcome of their struggle would be 
Dr. Matheson had promised to address a student general 
meeting early next term, to outline the administration’s 
viewpoint. 

On Thursday, 13th June, the meeting was held. The 
upstairs foyer and dining room were packed out. Dr. 
Matheson began with some all too familiar words on the 
value of Monash degrees’, and then went on to ‘assure’ 
students that he would not introduce a statute which could 

for their °ff* ca mpus activities. He also 
added that students should not associate the name of the 
University with their political activities’ and was very 
adamant about this point. At the time students did not see 
in this attitude any real danger to their political freedoms 
but in retrospect it seems that the University, even then, 

Drotp«f d t0 f r , event students engaging in open political’ 
protest, or at least to penalize those who did 

tnnlnn t I e / nd ^ 0f the meeting Dr Matheson was warmly 
applauded and everyone felt that he had backed down 

from his original position in the face of mass action that 
he was really a nice man. that all would be well. But in 

student 18 that ° r ' Matheson intended to be guided by 
student opmion, students were naive and wrong 

students 1 'of [he 2? de ° f the - m ° re P oIiti caUy''advanced 
students of the time, we reprint in full an independent 

broadsheet entitled — = O’ 

2 


70 


‘C.U.F. REPRESENTATIVES HAVE CLAIMED THAT 
IF STUDENTS ARE GIVEN 50% OF THE POSITIONS 
ON THE DISCIPLINE COMMITTEE THEN ALL OUR 
COMPLAINTS ABOUT DISCIPLINE AT THE UNI¬ 
VERSITY WILL BE ANSWERED — WHAT THIS 
MEANS IN PRACTICE IS THAT WE WILL GET 
HALF OF NOTHING, WHICH IS EXACTLY 
NOTHING. , „ Tu 

‘Why is the Discipline Committee so powerless? The answer 
to this question lies outside the University and not within it. 
Power in our society is exercised by the State and by 
powerful economic interests. The Administration of Monash 
University does not have a large place in this power structure. 
Now in the past Universities have been left pretty much to 
themselves in Australia but recently the people who run our 
society have decided that they will have to step m and take 

° V Those who control our society don’t like its basic values 
to be questioned—they don’t like dissent. They have 
developed a variety of techniques for keeping people in line, 
and they are often subtle techniques. In our conformist 
society dissent has become a dirty word and those who 
voice their disagreement can quickly find themselves classed 
as ratbags and troublemakers by their fellows. 

However there are some enclaves in this society, there 
are some areas in which this social pressure is not as power¬ 
ful as elsewhere. The Universities, and particularly Monash, 
make up one of these small areas. Some people at Monash 
have not been sucked into the system and they ve been doing 
a good deal of dissenting lately. . . . 

The State does not like this situation. Conventional means 
of stopping it have failed. Fines, smears and police harass¬ 
ment don’t seem to work. Students don t have jobs to be 
sacked from and many of them aren t frightened at the 
thought of never being able to work for I.B.M. or the Public 

Se Now the State still has plenty of power in reserve to deal 
with dissenters, but it is brutal naked power—the sort of 
power that has been used against O’Donnell and Townsend. 
Our rulers don’t want our gaols to be filled to overflowing 
with political prisoners because that would expose the true 
nature of the State. In part the power of our rulers^ rests 
on the myth that we live in the “Free World and if they 
had to put their opponents in gaol that myth would be 
destroyed. The State needs a more effective, and yet subtle 
method of dealing with student dissenters. 

This is where the University fits in. The State has decided 
that the University, not the Police or the Army, should be 
the instrument of repression in the case of students. It would 
suit the State if the University would do its dirty work for 
it, and bring the dissenting students into line. IT WOULD 

71 








SUIT THE STATE EVEN MORE IF STUDENTS WERE 
TO SHARE THE JOB OF “HATCHET MEN” WITH 
THE UNIVERSITY ADMINISTRATION. 

But University Discipline was not designed to punish the 
political opponents of the State—it was designed basically 
to prevent cheating at exams and to keep undergraduate 
rags under control. To suit the purposes of our society’s 
rulers the discipline powers of the University will have to be 
extended. This is where the new discipline statute and the 
University’s “off-campus” powers come in. 

But why should the University be another arm of the 
State, like the Police or the Army? Now the people who 
run the University, and particularly the more liberal of them 
like Dr. Matheson and Professor Andrew, don’t want the 
University to be another arm of the State. Many of them 
are genuinely devoted to education—they see themselves as 
scholars and administrators but not as highly educated 
policemen. 

When confronted by the power of the State the University 
Administration, acting by itself is powerless. The State sees 
the function of the University to be that of producing solid 
citizens not protesters and it has made it clear that if the 
University is to continue to get State finance it must start 
producing more solid citizens and fewer dissenters. The 
University Administration, whose prime aim is to keep the 
University above water financially, have given in. They have 
paid the price for being allowed to continue to run the 
University. And they have paid more than once. Each time 
the price gets higher. It started with the naming of the 
Ming Wing, then there was the Bolte Degree and now we 
have the Discipline Statute. The Administration has little 
power on its own and forced to choose between the govern¬ 
ment devil and the student deep blue sea it chose the devil. 

Now there is no point in merely sharing the powerlessness 
of the Administration—in taking a seat" on the Discipline 
Committee only to be subject to the same pressures as the 
Professors who sit there at the moment. We must not join 
with the apparatus of State Power, we must resist it and 
even destroy it. Students must not surrender their power 
to some “prefects” on the Discipline Committee. 

Our position must be quite clear: 

1. There shall be no off-campus discipline whatsoever. 

2. The Administration must draw up a specific Discipline 
Code for ratification by the students. There must be 
no vague offences like “misconduct” and conduct detri¬ 
mental to the interests of the University. 

Our fight is with the State not the Administration. If 
the Administration chooses to become “enforcer" for the 
State then that is their decision, we must not join them 
in it. Our job is resist the State and uphold the right to 
free speech and assembly.’ 


72 


■ 


Discipline 1969 


After the C.U.F. campaign of 1968, Council had passed 

this resolution: f . . , . te 

‘Council accepts in principle the view that in general students 
should not be disciplined by the University for private activi¬ 
ties off the campus.’ 

(17th June, 1968). 

It was seen by students as an assurance that Council 
had agreed to their demand that nobody should be 
penalized for off-campus activities. Thus the C.U.F. cam¬ 
paign was concluded. There were no more sit-ins and 
everything returned to normal. Little did anyone suspect 
that Admin would completely renege on this assurance 
and try once again to extend its jurisdiction over students 
to include off-campus activities. 

On the 25th February, 1969 (during the vacation), Dr. 
Matheson published a report which contained the following . 
resolution passed at a recent Council meeting: 

‘It is important that the right to terminate the membership 
of a student who has committed a serious offence be retained 
and enquiries should be made about dealing with the matter 


73 











administratively. If necessary the re-writing of the relevant 
paragraphs of this or some other Statute should be con- 
sidered. 

The report went on to propose that in accordance with 
this resolution a Status Committee (as part of the Status 
of Students Statute) should be set up. 

It is proposed that this Committee may consider among 
other things the cases of students convicted of criminal 
offence. It is further proposed that in such cases the Com¬ 
mittee may exclude or refuse to admit a student, or may 
impose conditions on his acceptance.’ 

The report concluded by saying that the Status Com¬ 
mittee would not be concerned with students who, in its 
opinion, had committed ‘political’ offences. 

Thus it appeared that the Administration had simply 
transferred off-campus discipline and ‘double jeopardy’ 
from one Statute to another. Students objected to this and 
also to certain clauses in the new draft Discipline Statute. 
An M.A.S. meeting was called on Tuesday, 15th April, 
mainly to consider two things: Clause 17.3 of the draft 
Status of Students Statute which provided (as Matheson’s 
report has said) for a student convicted of a criminal 
offence to be excluded from Monash, and a censorship 
clause in the draft Discipline Statute (Clause lb5), which 
provided discipline for ‘the publication of any false or 
grossly offensive statement beyond the bounds of fair 
comment’. The meeting eventually voted to give the 
Administration seven days to delete Clauses 17.3 and 
1 b5 from the Statutes and to take some form of direct 
action if this deadline was not met. 

When the seven days were up and the Administration 
had done nothing to meet student demands (demands 
which it had claimed to ‘accept’ in 1968), another M.A.S. 
meeting was held. With the prospect of direct action 
imminent many students began to waver and to feel that 

j dministrat i° n should perhaps be given more time 
Moderate students proposed that a Student Negotiating 
Committee (hereafter referred to as the S.N.C.) be set up 
and direct action postponed. During a fairly stormy debate 

h /l eft c W,ng opposcd this ’ claiming that the repressiveness 
of the Statutes was not accidental or simply a misunder¬ 
standing between students and the Administration but the 
result of deliberate Government pressure to crack down 


74 


on the radical protest movement. (All university statutes 
must be approved by the State Government before they 
become law.) The majority of the meeting agreed with 
the view of the moderates and consequently the S.N.C. 
was set up and the deadline was extended by two weeks. 
This was the start of a long series of protracted negotia¬ 
tions interspersed with more and more direct action as 
students became more and more exasperated with the 
failure of negotiations to achieve anything. 

5,000 SUPPORT M.A S. DEMANDS 

Two weeks had passed and the time allotted by the 
meeting of 21st April was up. Still the Administration 
refused to compromise. On Tuesday, 6th May, an M.A.S. 
meeting voted to take action against the Administration. 

We reprint extracts from the broadsheet Discipline at 
Monash — 

\ . . the administration is best summarised by quoting 
N S W.’s Premier Askin (of “run the bastards over fame) 
when he said, “if the university doesn’t discipline the students, 
the state will.” Professor Legge paraphrased this into more 
discreet academic terms when he said in the course of nego¬ 
tiations (with the S.N.C.) that if the “outside community 
felt that Council was abrogating its powers to the students 
then they might decide that the university was not capable 
of running its own affairs. ... . 

The line Bolte and Bowen take is that students are becoming 
too radical and restless and the University authorities had 
better do something to tighten control on behalf of the 
authorities. The line of Westfold. Matheson and Legge is 
that they had better comply with this or else the State 
authorities will intervene and thus wreck their precious 
“academic autonomy’’ (not to mention the myth that univer¬ 
sities are anything but a part of the present social system) 
Both are agreed that it is time to crack down on radical 

The only difference between this (Statute) and what students 
objected to last year is that instead of calling it by an 
honest name—expulsion for private off-campus activities, 
this provocation was labelled “reconsideration of status to 
protect the university” and a “non-political” tag was added 
to the criminal offences involved. Even if students were not 
concerned with the broader issue of whether a man should 
be punished twice for the same crime and were solely worried 
about the possibility of students being expelled for 
demonstrating illegally (something that has been seriously 
proposed in Parliament) the new clause would be completely 
unacceptable. There is in fact no such animal as a “political 


75 












o/fence” so there would be nothing to prevent the University 
from deciding to exclude a student who had been convicted 
of ‘‘assault” (being kicked by a policeman), “assault by biting” 
(being kicked in the mouth by a policeman), or “insulting 
words” (commenting on the fact that one had been kicked in 
the mouth by a policeman). This would not be done for 
any political reason, such as wanting to clamp down on 
demonstrations but simply in order to protect the University’s 
members and property from persons who might be prone 
to violence. After all, there is nothing political about an 
assault! (Even if it is usually the other way round!) 

If 17.3 was the only issue on which deadlock had been 
reached there would be ample grounds for immediate action. 
However, the Discipline Statute itself contains a whole series 
of clauses that completely eliminate the Statute’s own 
elaborate safeguards. It is misconduct for example to disobey 
any “reasonable” order. This has been watered down to 
orders designed to prevent other acts of misconduct or the 
commission of criminal offences. Nevertheless, we could be 
disciplined if we were ordered not to hold a general meeting 
today and consider the idea of sitting-in (which would be 
misconduct) and we still held the meeting but voted against 
the sit-in. We could also be disciplined for collecting N.L F 
aid on campus. Apart from this. Council can by regulation, 
define other things to constitute misconduct and get you that 
way. The Drafting Committee has absolutely refused to even 
consider the idea of M.A.S. approval being needed before 
Council can introduce any such regulations. Instead they 
have offered “consultation”—the sort of consultation we got 
on the parking and are getting now! There is of course 
adequate provision for observers to be present at Discipline 
Committee meetings, although they can be thrown out at any 
time and may not publish an uncensored report. 

Finally, just in case someone manages to get an accidental 
acquittal against all the odds, there is provision for the prose¬ 
cution to have a right of appeal to the Discipline Committee, 
and possibly, to Council. This makes the rest of the Statute 
just plain funny but the Drafting Committee has'not agreed 
to withdraw it Instead they will think it over and tell us their 
attitude on Thursday. The same goes for a student majority 
on the Discipline Committee. 

At today’s general meeting there will be moves for a 
token sit-in to strengthen our bargaining position. The Labor 
Club considers there is no point in bargaining further with 
dishonest people within the framework of a dishonest Statute 
Student discipline should he entirely in the hands of students 
and we should draft our own M.A.S. Statute on discipline 
(° ame "‘ t ,heirs - Stronger action than a 

- taken to have 'he present draft withdrawn 
and this principle adopted.’ 

Published by the Monash Labor Club. 

The sit-in which occurred after the meeting was sup¬ 


76 


ported by the S.N.C. too. The moderate broadsheet New 
From expressed the view of the S.N.C. before the meeting 
that ’the majority of the ad hoc committee (S.N.C.) which 
has a representative from each political club agrees that a 
sit-in at the administration building should be staged atter 
today’s general meeting . . . the sit-in is essential it we 
are to convince these people that the student body is 
prepared to stand firm on its demand for a greater say 
in the organization and decision-making of this Univer¬ 
sity . . . ACTION IS REQUIRED NOW. We ask all 
students to attend today's mass meeting and support the 
sit-in’. 

An overwhelming majority at the M.A.S. meeting sup- 
ported immediate action against the administration and 
were only divided as to the duration of the sit-in, over¬ 
night or only for several hours. Eventually the meeting 
was adjourned to the administration building so that the 
‘occupation or sit-in’ discussion could continue there. 

So at about 2.10 p.m. students marched out of the 
union and over to the administration building only to 
discover that all the doors had been locked to prevent the 
demonstration. If the acting Vice-Chancellor, Westfold, 
was hoping either to discourage the sit-in, or to provoke 
the students to storm the building and thus lay themselves 
open to charges of violence, he must have been disap¬ 
pointed. For the students simply climbed up the outside 
of the administration building, entered through a window 
and opened the front doors from inside. (The Herald still 
managed to describe all this as ‘storming of the adminis¬ 
tration building’.) . 

Only the foyer of the building was occupied and no 
one made anv attempt to enter offices or physically disrupt 
the work of the administrative staff. However Westfold, 
reacting with what he thought was a clever counter-attack 
cancelled all lectures and with a dramatic flourish called 
on the whole university to assemble outside the administra¬ 
tion budding. Doubtless, he expected that in the atmo- 
shere of impending ‘threat to the university’, he could get 
this enormous assem ble of students to vote overwhelmingly 
against the radicals thus isolating them and forestalling 
further development of a campaign against the new 
statutes. However he miscalculated. As it turned out, the 


77 









student body was not so keen in supporting the adminis¬ 
tration. 

By 3.20 p.m. students were pouring toward the adminis¬ 
tration building from all directions, and by 3.30 p.m. the 
area between the pond and the library, and the administra¬ 
tion building was packed. Estimates of the number of 
people present ranged from 5000 (Sun) to 7000 (Lot’s 
Wife). 

At 3.30 p.m. the meeting was due to begin but proce¬ 
dure for conducting it had not yet been decided. There 
was pressure from right-wingers to just discuss the sit-in 
itself. The administration would, of course, have been 
relieved if concern about the draft Statutes could be 
deflected into disapproval of the demonstration methods. 
A spokesman from the sit-in stated that they would only 
vacate the building if the meeting discussed the reasons 
for the action before deciding whether or not they sup¬ 
ported it. Ken Murphy (Chairman of M.A.S.) took the 
Chair and explained the situation to the waiting students. 
He then called for a show of hands on the proposal that 
the meeting should discuss the issues and then the sit-in. A 
large majority voted in favour of this proposal and so the 
meeting got underway. Students listened to the debate 
that followed with deep interest. A vote was taken on 
each issue after it had been outlined by one speaker from 
each side. The first issue was 17.3. 

The speaker in favour of 17.3 justified it in terms of 
the University needing protection from people with a 
tendency to commit crimes. Speaking against it, students 
expressed the view that (a) it is wrong to discriminate 
against people who have been convicted of a crime. 
Criminals should be rehabilitated, not rejected. The univer¬ 
sity should not be permitted to exclude people who are 
legally free in the outside community; (b) there had 
recently been a lot of pressure on the university to ‘crack 
down’ on student radicalism; the R.S.L. had called for 
the exclusion of students arrested at demonstrations. Many 
anti-government activists acquired criminal records con¬ 
taining convictions for ‘assaults’, ‘assault by kicking,’ 
‘riotous behaviour', etc., and despite university promises, 
it seemed likely that government pressure would be brought 


78 


to bear on the authorities to use 17.3 to exclude students 

such as these. , 

The vote was overwhelmingly against 17.3, only a 
handful voted in favour of its retention. Thus M.A.S. policy 
on this was reaffirmed by a clear majority of students. 

On the question of censorship (lb5) and student 
majority on the Discipline Committee, the voting was 

roughly the same. . 

The other issue was the M.A.S. veto over regulations 
which was supported less overwhelmingly but still by a 

clear majority. „ , . 

After reaffirming M.A.S. policy on all these issues the 
meeting voted that the sit-in should end, negotiations 
should continue on the basis of this new show of strength 
and that another M.A.S. meeting be held on the following 
Monday to consider the progress of these and whether 
further direct action was necessary. The demonstration 
left the building feeling that their action had been more 
successful than they could ever have hoped for. Now that 
a majority of students had agreed with M.A.S. demands 
the campaign had a real chance of success. All Vice- 
Chancellor Westfold had achieved was a reprieve from 
direct action; instead of isolating the radicals, his action 
had led to further isolation of the administration. The 
‘silent majority’ had at last taken a stand ... on the side 
of the radicals. (It just wasn’t Westfold’s day.) 

Wednesday, 7th May (day after the meeting of 5000 
and sit-in) saw an abortive attempt by a small number 
of medical students to disassociate the faculty from the 
decisions of the ‘5000’. Ten suitably aggrieved medicine 
students approached the acting Dean of Medicine (Pro¬ 
fessor Schofield) who agreed to cancel lectures at 12.15 
p.m. for the meeting. (Can you imagine a Dean can¬ 
celling lectures for a meeting called by the left?) Accord¬ 
ingly the meeting was held. But the expected ‘ritual denun¬ 
ciation’ never occurred. Try as they might, the conveners 
of the meeting gained no support. Consequently, members 
of the generally conservative Medical Faculty left the 
meeting "feeling a lot more sympathetic to M.A.S. policies 
than previously. As Print said next day, ‘One can only 
hope that administration will continue to cancel lectures 
so that students may participate in the running of the 
University.’ 


79 








WESTFOLD DOES A MAIL-OUT 

The administration was in a pretty sticky position. Now 
that a clear majority of all students had asked for the 
deletion of 17.3, it was hard to justify its retention. In the 
past Admin had been able to brush over M.A.S. demands 
as only representative of a ‘small minority’. This was no 
longer possible. However, Westfold and Co. were still 
determined to stand firm. The important thing now was 
to keep the students negotiating and to stop the majority 
of moderate students moving closer to the radicals and 
direct action. From this point on Admin was to concern 
itself more and more with isolating the militant activists 
from the more moderate majority on the basis that these 
people were a ‘threat to the university’, ‘manipulators’, 
and so on. If only direct action could be prevented then 
Admin could ‘sit-tight’, and hold out on the Discipline 
and Status of Students Statutes. 

On Thursday, 8th May, forty-eight hours after meeting 
5000, Westfold swung the Administration propaganda 
machine into action and mailed out a printed letter to the 
home address of every Monash student. It was a desperate 
attempt to persuade students to accept the statutes. It also 
attacked the students who had participated in the sit-in 
which had culminated in Tuesday’s mass meeting and said 
that the S.N.C. had committed a ‘serious dereliction of 
duty' in supporting Tuesday’s action ... ‘it would seem 
impossible for the Drafting Committee to carry on further 
discussions with transitory “representatives” who are happy 
to accept negotiations only so long as they agree with 
their point, resorting immediately to intimidation to enforce 
their views in cases where their arguments have not been 
persuasive’. What he failed to point out, of course, was 
that he himself had every intention of enforcing his 
‘views’ if his arguments to the students were ‘not per¬ 
suasive’. The only difference would be that he could take 
institutionalized ‘direct action’ by simply over-riding 
majority opinion and bringing the statutes into legislation. 

On Friday, 9th May, the S.N.C. met with the adminis¬ 
tration Drafting Committee. On the questions of 17.3, 
M.A.S. veto over regulations, student majority on Discip¬ 


80 


line Committee, and definition of misconduct, the S.N.C.’s 
arguments were not persuasive. However, agreement was 
reached over the ‘censorship’ and Administration agreed 
to drop clause lb5 of the Discipline Statute . . . probably 
as a sop to students hoping that they would calm down 
over what was now the main issue, 17.3. It was by now 
quite clear that mere ‘rational argument’ from students 
was never going to persuade the authorities to drop their 
‘right’ to exclude ‘criminal elements’ from the university. 
Complete deadlock had been reached with the mass of 
students on one side and the Administration on the other. 

ABORTIVE M.A.S. MEETING 

Monday, 12th May, was the day of the meeting called 
for by the 5000. Print stated the Labor Club’s view of 
what the Statute was all about: 

’‘Amidst all the accusations and counter accusations, lies and 
half truths, mass mailed Westfolian letters, and so forth, 
one point seems to have been missed, WHY HAS THE 
STATUTE BEEN DRAFTED ANYWAY? 

It is not because the Administration is worried about the 
pilfering of library books or rapists on campus debauching 
freshettes. If the Statute really dealt with those things, 
Administration would be perfectly happy to let students draft 
their own statute and administer it themselves. But, in fact. 
Administration regards a student-drafted statute as out of 
the question and one of the points on which negotiations 
have broken down is the refusal of the Administration to 
accept a student majority on the Discipline Committee. 
IF THE STATUTE WERE BEING DRAWN UP FOR 
OUR BENEFIT, ADMINISTRATION WOULD NOT 
OBJECT TO US RUNNING IT. 

For whose benefit is the Statute being drawn up? The 
answer to that question may be found in Bowen’s statement 
about dissent, in Bob Askin’s statement on the anti-militarist 
demonstration at Sydney University, in the string of state¬ 
ments that hangman, Henry Bolte, and his henchman, Rylah, 
have been making ever since students first protested against 
the hanging of Ryan. All of them have said that dissent 
must stop because it is becoming effective. All have said on 
various occasions that dissenting students might have to be 
excluded from the University either by direct expulsion or 
by the withdrawal of scholarships. In other words, the 
discipline statute is not aimed at stopping us from pinching 
library books. IT IS AIMED AT REPRESSING POLITICAL 
ACTION.’ 

An information table was set up in the Union to distri¬ 
bute the many broadsheets which had been produced. 


81 







Many faculty groups had brought out their own broad¬ 
sheets and several more general broadsheets were also 
available. Most of them listed reasons for opposing the 
new statutes, some suggested further negotiations, and 
others, like Print , claimed that direct action was the only 
possible course for the campaign to take. It became clear 
during the course of the morning that the main dispute 
which would be fought out at the meeting would be 
between the moderates who still tended to believe that 
reasoned arguments could convince Admin (or at least 
wished that it could), and the radicals who felt that argu¬ 
ment could have no effect on the Drafting Committee. 

‘Last week’s sit-in forced them to concede about as much 
as they can on the major issues. Further concessions would 
deprive them of their means of controlling student dissent 
and this would be unacceptable to the Government and big 
industrialists who between them control the funds of the 
university . . . Westfold cannot drop them (obnoxious 
clauses) or alter them in any meaningful way WITHOUT 
LOSING THE WHOLE POINT OF HIS DISCIPLINE 
STATUTE. This is why it is pointless to talk about negotia¬ 
tions. THERE IS SIMPLY NOTHING TO NEGOTIATE 
ABOUT. Either we accept their statute with its inherent 
restrictions on our freedom or we take further action to 
gain by strength that which is no longer possible to gain 
by strength of logic alone.’ Print. 

The mass meeting was a complete abortion and resulted 
in no decision being taken on the vital question of nego¬ 
tiation or direct action. It was too large to be held inside 
and so was held in the drizzling rain outside. When the 
vote came, the Chairman called for a division and the 
meeting promptly became chaotic. 

A recently formed right-wing vigilante group calling 
itself Alliance for Protection of the University, stationed 
itself around and on the Chairman’s rostrum and quite 
openly threatened him, tried to seize the microphone, and 
physically prevented anyone they presumed to be a left¬ 
winger from climbing on the truck to speak over the micro¬ 
phone or to the Chairman. Eventually the Chairman 
abandoned his desk and vacated the Chair. It was promptly 
v» Z ,\ d ^ ^ ar< ^ en Union, a non-member of 

M.A.S., who had no business interfering with the meeting, 
but who proceeded to make a long speech on the evils of 
sit-ins and occupations. He then called for a vote on 


82 


whether or not ‘to sabotage negotiations’ (!) Finally, the 
Chairman, Warwick Nelson, retrieved the Chair and uni¬ 
laterally closed the meeting against five motions of dissent 
and after no decision had been taken. 

The failure of this large student general meeting to 
achieve anything concrete took the heat out of the cam¬ 
paign temporarily. Many students were quite naturally 
disillusioned with student meetings and did not become 
re-involved in the struggle until half way through second 
term. Since there were only three days of the term left. 
Admin relaxed, hoping that the three weeks breather 
would dissipate student opposition. Wednesday, 14th May 
saw a smaller M.A.S. meeting where radicals did not move 
for direct action on the grounds that the vacation was now 
too close. Instead it was resolved to elect a new nego¬ 
tiating committee and continue negotiations 'as long as 
they remain fruitful’ (which was presumably supposed to 
mean ‘over vacation’). 

TERM 2 . i I. * i 

As expected, second term began with a lull in the 
struggle over the draft statutes, but this was partly due 
to a spate of political activity around off-campus issues. 
Albert Langer was on trial on the County Court before 
a judge and jury charged with the criminal offence of 
‘riot’, ‘inciting people to riot’ and ‘obstructing a police 
officer in the course of his duty’. This was the third time 
Langer had faced a court on these charges which had 
been first laid over ten months ago as a result of the 1968 
4th July protest. Alarmed at the success of the demon¬ 
stration and anxious to nip militancy in the bud, the 
authorities clamped down hard. 

When Langer’s trial came up in June, 1969, Monash 
students followed it with interest and solidarity (it ran for 
about two weeks, resulted in a divided jury and was 
rescheduled for August, 1969). Many students saw con¬ 
nections between moves by the State authorities to single 
out radical leaders for charges of criminal offences, and 
moves by the Monash administration to exclude students 
who had been convicted of these. If 17.3 were allowed 
to remain in the Status of Students Statute it would be an 
ideal way to get rid of any radical who was active enough 
to be noticed by police, arrested and convicted of a 


83 








criminal offence. Moreover, students would be too intimi¬ 
dated to demonstrate in case they were arrested, convicted 
and subsequently excluded from the university. 

An M.A.S. meeting was held early in second term 
where students overwhelmingly supported motions 
declaring that the trial was an attempt to stifle political 
dissent and to intimidate opponents to the government. 
This meeting also voted to hold a demonstration outside 
the court. 

While the Langer trial was still continuing, students 
were organizing on and off campus for the anti-U.S. 
imperialist demonstration. Several busloads of Monash 
students attended the demonstration which turned out to 
be even more militant than its predecessor and, resulted 
in large numbers of students being convicted of the usual 
‘criminal’ offences, and in calls from the R.S.L. for Univer¬ 
sity administrations to take steps to rid the universities of 
these elements. 

STAFF MEMBERS DECIDE 

While students were concerning themselves with the 
Langer trial anti 4th July, Admin was busy holding 
staff meetings in order to ascertain staff opinion on the 
new statutes ... 17.3 in particular. After the meeting of 
‘the 5000’, its attitude had been, ‘well, perhaps the students 
do oppose 17.3 but anyway they are only one section of the 
University (and much too idealistic, immature and suscept¬ 
ible to manipulation), staff opinion is sure to be more 
sympathetic and if we can get them to show their support 
for 17.3, then the students will feel too isolated to carry 
on (perhaps).’ 

Thus in the first weeks of term the staff were brought 
into the campaign with a series of staff meetings initiated 
by the administration. At each one a member of the 
administration Drafting Committee spoke on the univer¬ 
sity’s right to exclude people convicted of criminal offences 
and a member of the S.N.C. spoke against this. You can 
guess what happened! The staff also turned out to be 
‘much too idealistic, immature and susceptible to manipula¬ 
tion’. Each meeting without exception voted against 17.3. 
The situation was then that approximately 5000 students 
and a majority of staff had opposed it, but still the 


84 


administration insisted on retaining 17.3 in the Statute. 
It would have appeared far more logical and reasonable 
had they at this stage decided to concede the university 
demands. If their only reason for attempting to introduce 
17.3 had been to ‘protect’ the members of the university 
then why, when most members clearly did not want this 
protection, were they trying so hard to persist with the 
clause? Many students asked themselves this question and 
began to wonder whether some of the things Print had 
been saying about the authorities had been correct. 

NEGOTIATIONS ... The Sounds of Silence ... 

In the meantime Print continued its call for more action 
and less talk. It was quite clear that negotiations were no 
longer ‘fruitful’. In fact, they appeared to have come to 
a halt. The majority of the S.N.C. members still wanted 
to give Admin more time to work out new proposals. 
(Moderate student leaders were becoming more and more 
nervous at the thought of direct action. It appeared that 
the Admin’s bluster was definitely having an effect 
on these people who only nine weeks ago had supported 
an occupation or sit-in.) 

Exasperated by the fact that, despite all this ‘reasoned 
discourse’, 17.3 and most of the other objectionable 
clauses remained, the meeting voted to give Admin only 
fourteen more days in which to drop 17.3 from the 
Statute and to formulate definite proposals regarding the 
students demand for veto over the introduction of the new 
disciplinary regulations. 

On the day after this meeting Admin unilaterally cut 
off all negotiations under the threat of direct action, for 
apparently the Professorial Board had been instructed 
never to negotiate under the threat of direct action. This 
instruction had never been conveyed to the students. Print 
said: 

‘Admin has always regarded the right to exclude students on 
non-academic grounds as a non-negotiable demand. The his¬ 
tory of negotiations over past years has shown that there 
never was a chance of compromise over these two contradic¬ 
tory attitudes. SOMEBODY MUST BACK DOWN. Direct 
action is the only weapon students have to force the adminis¬ 
tration to back down and that is why negotiations were broken 
off as soon as we threatened to use it. Admin also finds a two 


85 





week deadline irksome because it interferes with their strategy. 
They have no intention of granting student demands on 17.3 
and they want to keep on talking. They do not want the fact 
that negotiations are useless to become clear until third term. 
In third term or during the vacation they could then pass 
17.3 into statutory law over student’s heads, knowing that 
we could not use our weapon, direct action, close to the 
exams.’ 

BASTILLE DAY 

There was an angry reaction to the Administration’s 
cessation of negotiations and left wing students attempted 
to call an emergency M.A.S. meeting about it. However, 
the Administrative Executive of M.A.S. refused to call 
one (despite a petition with the right number of signatures) 
on the grounds that the previous M.A.S. meeting had 
voted to wait fourteen days before having another meeting 
on the question. When the M.A.S. bureaucrats stubbornly 
held to their position despite arguments from many 
students that there had been an important and unforeseen 
change in the situation, the Labor Club decided to call a 
rally of its own to occur on Monday, 14th July, (Bastille 
Day), which was also the day on which the July Council 
meeting was held. A leaflet Direct Action or Nothing was 
distributed around the campus all morning to inform 
students of the rally and of the fact that direct action 
would be proposed at it. 

Feeling among the students who attended the rally was 
that Administration’s action was tantamount to a denial 
of the right to demonstrate. Negotiations were all very 
well when both sides operated from a position of strength 
but at Monash it appeared that Admin believed that 
one side should be strong while the other should be 
kept in a position of servility. One speaker drew an analogy 
between the situation at Monash and a workers’ struggle. 
Workers who want a better deal and go on strike about 
it are always bitterly attacked and slandered by their boss 
for being ‘irresponsible’, ‘resorting to industrial blackmail’ 
and told to solve their problems at the conference table 
or ‘go to arbitration’. So long as the workers are content 
to merely file a log of claims, the employers are sitting 
pretty. As soon as they stop talking and appealing to the 
goodness of the bosses’ heart, then the balance of power 


86 


begins to change. Only then do negotiations have any 
meaning. Otherwise the boss remains in the position of 
absolute power just by virtue of being ‘boss’. 

The rally eventually voted to move over to the Adminis¬ 
tration building where the Council meeting was to be held. 
About 100 students entered the building and waited for 
the Council members to arrive. At 3.00 p.m. ‘important 
persons’ were seen approaching the Administration 
building. The students in the building made an application 
to Sir Douglas Menzies, Chancellor of Monash, for a 
delegation to be admitted to the Council meeting so that 
the purpose of the demonstration could be explained. 
Menzies, shocked by this insubordination and by his 
meeting with real, live radical Monash students went 
slightly red in the face and said that never before had 
students been allowed into a Council meeting and he had 
no intention of changing this fine tradition. When students 
continued arguing with him he started lecturing the crowd. 
Beginning with the classic phrase . . . ‘When I was your 
age . . .’ he went on to explain how he had pulled himself 
up ‘by his own bootstraps’ and was worthy of great respect 
on this basis. Matheson stood by with a look of pained 
embarrassment while Menzies was performing and seemed 
almost afraid to interrupt, despite the fact that Sir Douglas’s 
behaviour appeared to be contributing greatly to the con¬ 
fusion and disorder in the building. People were collapsing 
with laughter and Council was fast losing its all important 
aura of dignity and omnipotence. Finally Matheson 
chipped in to threaten that if students didn’t stop congre¬ 
gating around the door of the Council Chamber he would 
cancel the meeting. A student then spoke through the 
megaphone to suggest that the whole demonstration move 
away from the door to the other side of the building, 
(leaving behind them the three students who had been 
nominated as the delegation), so that there could be no 
accusation of a mass storming or blockading of the Council 
chamber. The students immediately complied. As the 
door was about to be opened, Menzies rushed over, 
grabbed the megaphone and in an apparent fit of pique 
announced that the meeting was cancelled! This ended 
Bastille Day. None of the students involved could even 
have suspected that the next day’s newspapers were to 


87 













appear describing the day’s relatively insignificant events 
as ‘riots’ bringing Monash to the ‘brink of crisis’. 

COUNTER ATTACK — THE ESCALATION 

By 6.00 p.m. on Bastille Day perturbed newspapers 
were describing the gory events. Dr. Matheson was inter¬ 
viewed and said he was ‘disturbed’ by the events. However, 
all would be well he assured, speedy justice would be 
meted out to the ‘troublemakers’ in the forms of university 
discipline. The announcement that the protestors would be 
disciplined was a bombshell to the radicals. At Monash 
it was almost a tradition to enter the Administration 
building during times of mass dissatisfaction. 

Bastille Day was a turning point for the authorities. 
From then on they appear to have quite consciously 
changed their tactics. Instead of trying to win support 
from the mass of students for the statutes, they began to 
take the offensive. No longer were they content to merely 
defend their own position as regards 17.3; they now 
began, in an organized and efficient way, to launch an 
attack on the militant student leaders in the hope of 
being able to isolate them from the mass of more moderate 
students and thus destroy the united front which had 
grown up against the new statutes. While they talked about 
‘negotiations’, ‘reasoned discourse’, ‘rational debate’, it 
was clear that they too now saw things in terms of a battle. 

MATHESON FIRES OPENING SHOTS 

1 On Tuesday, 15th July, Dr. Matheson called his own 
•ally of the whole university complete with public 
iddress system, rostrum and most important, pre- 
Dublicity in the morning papers. After enthusiastically 
/adding fuel to the media’s anti-Monash fire with several 

( choice statements about Monday’s events such as ‘I was 
forced to send the women staff home for their own safety’ 
(sheer panic-mongering with a bit of emotive male chau¬ 
vinism thrown in) he went on to read out a long speech 
based upon a report he had prepared for Council on his 
recent four months ‘study tour’ to overseas universities. It 
began with the following statement: 


88 


‘To make a series of visits to universities in different 
parts of the world in 1969 is to undertake a journey which 
has some nightmare qualities of science fiction: the triffids 
are springing up everywhere and no-one knows how to 
keep them in check, still less how to cut them down. But 
this is not a nightmare from which one can wake into a 
sane and orderly world. Everywhere the reality is of 
universities under attack, in chaos closed, or open only 
under police protection.’ 

From here he went on to tell horror stories about over¬ 
seas student rebellion. Much repetition of the words 
‘violence’, ‘coercion’, ‘disruption’, etc., served to paint 
a rather graphic picture of the senseless disruption and 
disorder which was supposedly intended to strike fear into 
the hearts of all decent, peace-loving Monash students. 
Underlying it was an appeal to Monash patriotism in the 
form of ‘don’t let this happen to Monash’, ‘Preserve this 
great university’, ‘stop the militants before it is too late,’ 
etc. 

A large part of this proclamation was devoted to reading 
out a ‘Resolution on Rights and Responsibilities’ which 
had been passed by the Harvard Faculty of Arts and 
Sciences (staff). This resolution declared ‘violence and 
interference with freedom of speech and movement’ to be 
‘unacceptable’ (whose ‘freedom’, whose ‘speech’ and 
‘movement’?) and went on to equate ‘direct action’ as 
amounting in essence to the above. 

The student struggle at Harvard was described as 
‘violent’, ‘disruptive’, ‘coercive’, ‘intimidatory’ and ‘con¬ 
trary to freedom of speech’. It was left to Print next day 
to put Matheson’s judgement in context by explaining just 
what the Harvard students had been struggling about. 

# What actually did happen at Harvard, and what Dr. Mathe¬ 
son did not choose to tell Monash students , was that students 
at Harvard demanded that military training should not be 
permitted on campus or credited toward degrees. They also 
demanded that the university administration break off its 
links with the C.l.A. and Defence Department and cancel 
all research contracts with them (which were many). In 
particular, students objected to war research which was going 
on, one particularly obnoxious example being the fact that 
the Chemistry department was doing specialized research 
into "better” formulas for napalm. During a mass occupation 
in support of these demands , files which directly proved the 


89 







■ 


university’s secret contracts with the C.l.A. and the Defence 
Department were stolen by students ... In his speech Dr. 
Matheson mentioned the theft of these files as a heinous 
crime contrary to “academic freedom M . . . he did not mention 
the content of the files / 

After he had finished speaking on the dangers of student 
activism and how students should avoid ‘enforcing’ their 
ideas on others by engaging in group demonstrations such 
as occupations, and that Monash must remain a centre 
of ‘free debate’ with no one view-point dominating, that 
‘as an institution’ it must remain ‘neutral’ and that 
‘reasoned discourse’ was the way to solve the problem, he 
stepped down from his rostrum, categorically refused to 
answer questions from the floor and when students 
attempted to speak through the microphone, ordered that 
the power be cut off. 

The next day, the Sun and other newspapers gave much 
space to Matheson’s accusations of ‘violence’ etc., and in 
particular played up a suggestion (from Matheson himself) 
that the ‘financial tap’ to Monash ‘might be turned off’ if 
the unrest continued. 

The press was to become a powerful ally for Dr. 
Matheson in his battle to discredit the radicals over the 
next few months. A preview of this was given by the 
relative ease with which the media managed to turn the 
Council demonstration into a ‘riot’. There seems little 
doubt that most of the newspaper reading, radio listening, 
T.V. watching public, probably believed that the students 
of Monash were ‘abusing their privileges’, ‘wasting tax¬ 
payers’ money’ and generally behaving in a disgusting way. 
Certainly an increasing number of Monash students began 
to develop hostile feelings towards the militants as was 
demonstrated at the M.A.S. meeting which was called to 
consider the recent events. Though this meeting voted over¬ 
whelmingly to oppose the proposed discipline trials and 
to organize direct action if Dr. Matheson carried out his 
threat, it decided to disassociate M.A.S. from the Council 
demonstration itself. Towards the end of the meeting the 
question of negotiations came up with the moderates and 
right-wingers uniting successfully to move that the two 
week deadline be set aside so that the Administration 
would re-open negotiations. 


90 


DESTRUCTION, VIOLENCE, DISRUPTION, COME 
TO MONASH (or Farm Week Fun ’69) 

From 20th to 24th July the normal processes of the 
university were severely disrupted by ‘Farm Week ' (tradi¬ 
tional Monash ‘rag week’). $1340 worth of damage was 
done to University property, students walking between the 
Ming Wing and the union were thrown into the pond, one 
university worker was injured by a water bomb which 
was hurled from the top of the Ming Wing, a class of 
visiting school children were attacked by a hoard of flour- 
bombing youths, motor bikes were ridden down the corri¬ 
dors of the Science Block, and students conducted a water 
fight using fire hoses in the law building. M.A.S. asked the 
Administration to take action against the students involved 
in the more serious of these ‘pranks’. Admin however 
merely set up a ‘Committee of Investigation’ to hear 
‘evidence’ about the misdemeanours of Farm Week. 
Eventually several students were disciplined and received 
token fines. Despite the fact that more damage was done 
in financial terms during Farm Week than in any Monash 
political activity (approximately $1300 more), that 
ordinary students ‘quietly going about their own business* 
were sometimes physically prevented from doing so, and 
at times whole areas of the university were thrown into 
chaos, there were no press reports about Monash louts 
wasting public money, or ‘dragging the university into 
dirt’. 

The Public Affairs Committee however, passed the 
following motion: 

‘That the Public Affairs Committee notes with dismay and 
concern the actions of a small section of the university 
student body apparently manipulated by extremist elements 
and not authorised by any M.A.S. meeting who, with the 
connivance of certain responsible persons have engaged a 
systematic campaign of destruction, violence and intimida¬ 
tion. The unlawful assembly of rioting mobs who took over 
the university grounds on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 
and Friday, damaged university property, threw members 
of the university into the ornamental pond can only lower 
the value of Monash degrees and is contrary to the revolu¬ 
tionary spirit of the University. Public Affairs Committee 
affirms its demand that such a debacle be never allowed to 
recur. 

In the view of the Drafting Committee’s determination to 


91 






protect students from the totally irrelevant activities of their 
fellows outside the university grounds, regardless of student’s 
expressed wish not to be protected, we have no doubt that 
firm action will be taken to protect students from the real 
danger within the university and thus end for all time the 
ignoble suspicion that action is only taken over political 
matters. 

While not wishing to aggravate tensions further we feel 
that the university authorities should have taken steps to 
send all female staff home, cancel all lectures, issue appropri¬ 
ate manifestos, give press releases, etc., as they have done 
with such fortitude when the university has been less 
threatened than now.* 

Free Speech, published by the well known D.L.P. 
Club member, Mark Lapirow, hailed Farm Week as ‘a 
really good honest way of letting off steam’: ‘Heaven help 
us if we had to be serious all the time! I am proud to 
testify that six Monash Democrats participated in the toilet 
cramming.’ (Free Speech No. 25 1969). 

On Monday, 27th July the cancelled Council meeting 
was held on campus. About ten students went to the 
Administration building with a written request that a dele¬ 
gation of students be admitted to the meeting. The letter 
was delivered to the Council meeting and the students 
waited outside for an answer. After an hour and a half 
waiting and still no reply, the students gave up and left 
the building. A photographer was waiting outside to photo¬ 
graph each student as he left. 

ADMIN STARTS THE PERSECUTION 

On Wednesday, 29th July, eight students received sum¬ 
monses ordering them to appear before the Discipline 
Committee to answer charges arising out of Bastille Day. 
On Thursday, 30th July, a rally of about 200 students 
went to confront Dr. Matheson and ask why he had laid 
the charges in direct opposition to M.A.S. policy, why the 
eight were to be charged under the old Discipline Statute 
which was universally regarded as repressive, and why 
they were to be charged with ‘disobeying a reasonable 
order’, a charge of distinctly repressive nature. Matheson 
was not in the Administration building and lo and behold 
students discovered that he was lunching with a guest, 
Clark Kerr, President of the Berkeley University at the time 
of the Free Speech movement there. Matheson’s close 


92 



association with Kerr threw a revealing light upon his real 
attitudes toward discipline and punishment for student’s 
off campus activities. In his Study Leave Report to Council 
Matheson had said: 

‘In America where our journey started, the first shot 
(not then literally) to be heard around the world was fired 
in Berkeley in 1964 when a dispute about the freedom of 
advocacy flared up into a real confrontation which eventu¬ 
ally caused the resignation of President Clark Kerr. 

‘During the course of this disputation . . . which is still 
going . . . the effectiveness of passive resistance, the sit-in 
was discovered anew, probably without due acknowledge¬ 
ment to Ghandi and other early exponents; the merits of 
obscenity, sacrilege and so on, as a means of goading 
the Administration into reprisals which could be repre¬ 
sented as unjust, became manifest; the ease with which 
some faculty members could be induced to support the 
Cause in the belief that they were supporting academic 
freedom was observed.’ Here, as with the Harvard case, 
Matheson seemed reluctant to draw attention to the issues 
which were at stake, doubtless realizing that if the 
struggles of the two American universities were clearly 
understood by the students of Monash, then his whole 
‘thesis’ of the nature of student unrest would be exposed 
and rejected as nothing more than emotive hogwash. 

The battle at Berkeley parallels that at Monash in a 
way that must have been embarrassing for a man like 
Matheson. Kerr’s administration in 1964 behaved much 
as Matheson’s in 1968. Kerr, like Maftheson, took the 
stand that students’ off-campus activities were the concern 
of the university and carried this even further by banning 
any individual club advocating support for an off-campus 
movement. The only political comment which was per¬ 
mitted on campus was that which gave arguments both 
for and against a particular viewpoint and which did not 
advocate any form of political action (on or off campus). 
Students who set up tables organizing for a demonstration 
against racism were disciplined and this is what sparked 
off the whole campaign. 

Matheson’s 1968 attempt to discipline students who did 
‘naughty’ things off campus and his attempt during 1969 
to introduce legislation which could exclude politically 


93 







active students smacked very strongly of Kerr’s concept 
of a ‘neutral’ university and his consequent attack on the 
students’ Free Speech movement. Radical students saw 
Matheson’s close association and obvious friendship with 
Clark Kerr as an indication that he was probably in basic 
political agreement with Kerr and would if possible 
attempt to strike out any effective political rebellion at 
Monash. 

M.A.S. OCCUPIES THE ADMINISTRATION 
BUILDING 

On Monday, 4th August, M.A.S. meeting voted to 
occupy the Administration building, ‘until we receive a 
favourable reply to our demands’. These demands were:— 

(a) that the charges should be dropped. 

(b) that if this is impossible, an open hearing instead 
of the proposed closed one should be held. 

(c) that student demands on 17.3 should be accepted. 

The trial was to begin at 10.00 a.m. the next day, so 

there was a sense of urgency about the whole situation. 
This time students entered the Administration building 
knowing that they would be staying all night. What had 
started off as a campaign against certain clauses in the 
new statute had now been escalated by the Administra¬ 
tion’s intransigence in the face of majority opposition into 
a full scale confrontation. Matheson had thrown down 
the gauntlet to students in his decision to discipline those 
who took direct action instead of continuing with meaning¬ 
less negotiations and this challenge had been taken up by 
M.A.S. Matheson was faced with only two alternatives — 
to accept students demands on 17.3 and drop the discipline 
charges or confront student dissatisfaction head on and 
hope to ride the storm with the help of an organized 
publicity campaign against the militants. He chose the 
latter and thus was Monash plunged into a fresh wave of 
vicious press attacks and attempts to aggravate public 
opinion. 

Only the foyer section of the building was occupied and 
no-one made any attempt to enter offices and disrupt the 
administrative work which was still going on. (In this sense 
it was not a real occupation . . . only a show of strength 
potential.) A duplicating machine and typewriter belonging 


94 


to the Labor Club were brought to the building and a 
Publications Committee set up, so that broadsheets 
explaining M.A.S. demands could be produced. At the 
same time an Occupation Steering Committee was elected 
to co-ordinate all activities and sub-committees for food, 
sleeping, cleaning up, poster production and leaflet distri¬ 
bution were organized. One section of the building was 
designated a ‘discussion area’ while others were set aside 
for sleeping and work. All evening the building was a 
beehive of activity and argument. Leaflets, posters and 
chalk signs were produced, duplicating lessons were 
organized so that individual students could put out their 
own leaflets, collections were taken up to buy paper, ink 
and food. P.A.C. met, supported the occupation and 
agreed to organize a mass student rally to be held inside 
the building at 10.00 a.m. next morning (coinciding with 
the beginning of the trial). 

By 10.00 a.m. next morning the building was packed 
with students. Supporters who had not been prepared to 
stay all night were returning. Others came out of curiosity. 
At 10.15 a.m. the three Deans and sub-Deans who were 
to ‘try’ ‘the eight' arrived and entered the Council Cham¬ 
bers where the trial was to be held. At the same time the 
rally began. Most students there felt that since the Adminis¬ 
tration was obviously not going to drop the charges the 
most realistic demand was for an ‘open hearing’. (Adminis¬ 
tration had refused anyone apart from a small number of 
approved ‘observers’ to view the proceedings.) The eight 
accused students were asked to go into the hearing and 
put a formal request for the hearing to be opened. As 
expected the Discipline Committee categorically refused 
this demand on the grounds that students might disrupt 
the hearing. When asked if whether it would be possible 
to have the proceedings broadcast on the closed circuit 
T.V., the Committee admitted the facilities were available 
but refused the request on the grounds that the cameras 
might ‘distract’ them. 

The crowd outside the council chambers was pretty 
angry at the refusal to grant even their most minor demands 
and the atmosphere became quickly more militant. It was 
decided however, to spend the morning organizing an 
M.A.S. meeting which was to be held at lunchtime outside 


95 






the Administration building and to postpone direct action 
against the discipline trial until after this meeting. 

All the morning the building was crowded with 
students. The occupation had developed into the biggest 
student action Monash had so far seen. 

At 1.00 p.m. a rather chaotic M.A.S. meeting outside 
the Administration building reaffirmed all M.A.S. demands 
overwhelmingly. The question of the occupation itself was 
not even raised; everyone just assumed that it had to go 
on. When the meeting finished more students went into the 
building and joined the occupiers instead of going back 
to lectures. 

Students clustered around both entrances to the Council 
Chambers, everyone was by now determined to defy the 
Committee and ‘open the hearing’ anyway. A rather 
ungrammatical chartt of ‘we want in , ‘we want in! went 
up. Finally at about 3.15 p.m. an attendant opened the 
door to let one of the accused enter. As he walked 
s-l-o-w-l-y through, the crowd surged forward and through 
with him. As the protesters began taking their seats in 
the now opened hearing. Professor Manton (chairman of 
the Committee) sprang angrily to his feet and ordered 
them immediately to leave the room. When no-one left 
and students continued to flow into the forbidden room, 
he announced that the hearing had been adjourned until 
some time in the coming vacation and then stomped out 
of the room. Ten students were later charged with ‘acting 
in a manner likely to disrupt a meeting of the Discipline 
Committee’, ‘failing to obey an order to leave the Council 
Chamber’ and ‘entering the Council room during a meeting 
of the Discipline Committee without permission . 

Two hundred and sixty students remained in the Council 
Chamber until about 6.00 p.m. when they left after having 
conducted a closed trial of the university authorities and 
found them guilty. This discipline committee was made up 
without Administration members and everyone on it 
opposed 17.3. 

PRESS LEADS NEW COUNTER ATTACK 

Over the next few days the authorities counter-attacked 
with the help of the mass media. Newspaper, television 
and radio commentators came out on the side of the 


96 


Administration in reporting the sit-in, though few explained 
the issues involved lest it should show the authorities in 
a bad light, and draw sympathetic attention to the real 
concerns of the activists. The aim of the media was to 
centre attacks on a few ‘ring leaders’ and woo the rest 
of the students into submission by referring to a ‘majority’ 
of Monash students who were ‘law abiding’, and ‘hard 
working’ and who were suffering terribly from the activities 
of a minority ‘intent on giving the university a bad name’. 
It was at about this time that the now rather worn out 
scare tactic of suggestions that radicals ‘might close down 
the university’ was first used. Quite suddenly the media 
began talking about the radicals ‘stated aim’ of ‘bringing 
the university to a halt’. The funny thing about this 
‘radical aim’ was that most radicals first heard of it from 
reading the newspapers and listening to Dr. Matheson! 
A thorough reading of all the left wing broadsheets, state¬ 
ments etc., reveals not a mention of any such intention. 

An important part of this press campaign was the 
narrowing down of the ‘minority’ into just one individual, 
Albert Langer. Langer was constantly pictured as some 
sinister ‘behind-the-scenes operator’. In particular the 
media attacks played on people’s distrust for anything or 
anyone out of the ordinary. No mention of Langer’s actual 
political beliefs (except for loaded comments about him 
being a ‘Communist’) was made in newspaper stories 
which featured him; instead he was presented as some 
sort of ‘alien’ or ‘freak’. ‘Langer is a brilliant Maths 
honours student — he is also a master of manipulating 
people’ {Age, 7th August) ‘Over the whole crisis looms the 
shadow of rotund bearded Albert Langer’ (brilliant political 
analysis of the Herald, 7th August). ‘He, (Chris Dane, 
right wing student) thinks it would appeal to the public if 
a few hefty rightwingers beat up the lefties. And until they 
act, Albert Langer pulls the strings’! ( Herald , 7th August). 

The media sought to create the impression that radicals 
are not just ordinary people but are somehow ‘different’, 
‘peculiar’: ‘They (the radicals) are quite quick, quite funny 
and quite cold. Their women stand out too. They carry a 
worldly flatness except when the action is on. Then they 
are in there with their men jumping just as much.’ (Age, 
7th August.) 


97 








‘These maniac young men and their solemn joyless 
girlfriends seem little more than a sad, self-pitying coterie, 
working out the aggressions of their delayed adolescence 
(Age editorial, 8th August). 

‘The activists are looking for an issue through which 
they could manipulate the emotions of all students’ (Sun, 

9th August). . .... 

All these ‘news’ paper stories, with sensational headings 
like ‘The Siege of Monash’, ‘Monash . . . Why It Is In 
Revolt’, ‘It’s Up To Monash Says Bolte’, and ‘The Escala¬ 
tion’, emphasized the division of the moderates from the 
radicals: ‘a small group of students is conducting a deliber¬ 
ate and callous campaign to wreck Monash University’ 
(Sun, 9th August). .... f 

‘A handful of militants are dominating the lives of 
nearly 10,000 Monash students. ‘TODAY THE 
CAMPUS IS A HOTBED OF INTRIGUE’, ‘peace is the 
early morning for Dr. Matheson. At 7.30 a.m. the Vice- 
Chancellor and his dog take their regular walk around 
the university grounds, greeting the new day and the 
gardeners. In the past week this has been the only time 
Dr. Matheson has really known peace. Albert Langer has 
seen to that.’ (Herald, 7th August.) 

Not many students really believed that their campus 
was a hotbed of intrigue, or that they were being manipu¬ 
lated by shadowy, bearded monsters, but the sum effect 
of the concerted press campaign did much to create a 
sense of impending crisis and undoubtedly sowed doubts 
in people’s minds as to the motives of the militants. Many 
students who had probably agreed in principle with the 
struggle over 17.3 and discipline, began to want to draw 
a clearer line of demarcation between themselves and these 
cold, stereotyped, shadowy figures. The press attacks 
had the effect of diverting student attention away from 
the real minority behind the ‘trouble’, away from the 
handful of men in the Administration building who had 
deliberately spurned majority opinion and toward a belief 
that there had been some sinister plot to wreck the 
university. 

It is hard to assess the real effect of the media attack 
over these few days. Though it is certainly true that on 
certain sections of the community the effect was definitely 


98 


very great and probably long lasting, it should also be 
realized, (particularly by students who tend to be elitist) 
that most Australians have a healthy distrust of the mass 
media. Indeed the years since 1969 have found newspapers 
printing stories about workers’ struggles in much the same 
way as they write about students. Whenever any group 
in society stands up and rebels or takes direct action in 
order to gain, a demand, the same worn out story is 
trotted out to the public — a small minority manipulating 
a large decent majority. The trouble is that there isn’t much 
public left; groups from almost all sections of society 
from teachers to carpenters and S.E.C. workers have been 
victims of the same stereotyped attacks and the story of 
manipulation is wearing thin. 

One of the less obvious effects of media attacks is on 
the radicals themselves who become demoralized and are 
led to believe that newspaper reports are an accurate reflec¬ 
tion of public opinion. As the student movement develops 
links, with the working class and with the working class 
struggles (as is now happening) the effect of the mass media 
is bound to be far less. It is only when student struggles 
are completely separated from off-campus movements, that 
they can become really isolated. 

On Thursday, 7th August, Matheson visited Bolte. 
Headlines in the Herald featured him accompanied by 
plain clothes policemen, entering State Parliament House 
through an iron grid complete with guard, intending to 
falsely suggest that ‘the handful of militants’ were ‘out 
for violence’ against the Vice-Chancellor himself. 

After the much publicized meeting Bolte said that he 
and Matheson had discussed ‘their impressions of control 
of universities overseas’ (or. How best to stamp out 
rebellion?). 

MATHESON’S SPEECH TO THE NATION 

On Friday, 8th August, the last day of second term, 
Dr. Matheson cancelled all lectures for one hour in order 
to address students over close-circuit television. Three 
days of newspaper publicity had prepared the way for him 
to launch this blistering attack on the ‘violent minority’ 
and since it would be three weeks before the radicals 


99 






could present any organized defence, this was the ideal 
way for an effective Administration attack. The very 
drama of the close-circuit television 'appeal to students 
gave the whole thing an atmosphere of gravity and which 
benefited Admin’s policy of diverting attention away from 
issues such as 17.3 and towards the mythical ‘plot to 
wreck the university’. . 

‘Three possibilities face Monash,’ Matheson proclaimed 
solemnly. ‘We may follow the course that other univer¬ 
sities have followed, even reaching such a state of chaos 
that we will have to close ... We may continue in a state 
of present conflict with the affairs of the university 
occupying the mass media. This is producing a public 
reaction against the university which can hardly fail to be 
harmful to the students when they graduate. We may 
restore a state of affairs in which student grievances are 
sensibly discussed, negotiated and finally brought into legis¬ 
lation. This last situation existed until recently and it was 
possible to make progress so that the student "voice was 

heard. , . , 

'. . . Serious damage has been done to the reputation ot 
this university. People are apt to forget the good work 
that has been done and think that nothing happens except 
disturbances . . . The current disturbances have put a 
stigma on Monash that will take a long time to remove. 
The student body must think what they can do to restore 
the reputation of the Monash degree ... At the right 
moment a building may be occupied or some other violent 
act takes place; finally the university is closed and the 
president resigns. 

‘. . . There is a great bulk of moderate students who 
have plenty of grievances but would not normally react 
violently against the system. These students endeavour to 
change the system by democratic means unless they are 
manipulated into violent action . . . These events have 
introduced a new element onto campus and that element 
is violence . . . The present student mass meetings are 
perfectly devised for manipulation. 

‘. . . The responsibility rests on you, don t let this 
university be destroyed.’ 

Thus once again Matheson had used the tactic of wildly 
attacking the radicals and drawing attention away from 


100 


himself so that he had not once attempted to defend or 
even deal with the clauses in the Discipline Statute and 
17.3. 

After his speech he agreed to attend a mass student 
meeting. The main question asked of him at this meeting 
was why only eight students had been disciplined for their 
part in the ‘Bastille Day’ demonstration. Could the 
Discipline trials have been merely an attempt to purge 
piominent Labor Club members? (All the eight students 
except one were Labor Club members.) Matheson replied 
that all students who could be identified as being present 
at the demonstration had been disciplined and that anyone 
else who came up and admitted being present at the 
incident would be disciplined. He received a round of 
applause for this smart answer, however many of the 
people who clapped probably never found out the dis¬ 
honesty of this statement. What did happen was that 
thirty-one students called his bluff and signed legal affi¬ 
davits saying they had participated in the demonstration. 
These affidavits were handed to Matheson. There was no 
leply for some time, but eventually (a safe distance into 
third term) each person received a letter saying that before 
disciplinary proceedings could be instituted"they would 
have to admit 

(a) that they heard an order to disperse, 

and 

(b) that they had not dispersed. 

In simple terms this meant that they had to plead guilty 
before being charged. In the case of the original "eight 
however. Administration had required no evidence other 
than that they had been present, before charging them. It 
was now quite obvious that the authorities had" carefully 
selected the eight with a view to possible expulsion or at 
least giving them disciplinary records which could lead to 
expulsion in later years. Victimization of leaders has since 
become a common antic of Australian University Adminis- 
trations. 

MATHESON’S NEXT TRICK 

In the middle of the vacation students were surprised 
to see an article in the Age entitled ‘Monash Leaders 
Dodge Rebels. The article began: ‘Monash University 


101 














Council side-stepped student disruption yesterday with an 
unpublicized meeting at the Alfred Hospital. The Vice- 
Chancellor (Dr. J. L. Matheson) said that the Adminis¬ 
tration building could not be defended. It contained ten 
doors and one hundred windows. “It could be that if I 
were setting up the university again I might not have an 
Administration Building,” he said (Age, 12th August, 
1969).’ 

The holding of the meeting at the Alfred Hospital was 
transparently aimed at achieving public sympathy for the 
Monash Administration. The impression given by the 
newspaper reports of the meeting was that the Council 
was afraid to set foot on the campus due to the roving 
bands of violent delinquents. Matheson ‘forgot 1 to tell the 
press three things however: 

(i) that the whole university was on vacation at the time 
and this meant that the students couldn’t have 
organized to disrupt the meeting, 

(ii) that the Discipline trials had been proceeding com¬ 
pletely uninterrupted on campus, 

(iii) that since ‘Bastille Day 1 demonstration a Council 
meeting had been held on campus and during the 
height of student opposition to Administration and 
this meeting had gone on quite peacefully. 

DISCIPLINE 

While Council was meeting in terror off campus, the 
Discipline trials proceeded quietly on campus. Not long 
after the Committee had reconvened to hear the evidence, 
six of the defendents were excluded f: om the hearing for 
‘insubordination 1 . (The chairman objected to them talking 
to the observers.) Even when the defendants issued a 
written ‘conditional apology 1 and applied to be readmitted 
so that they could defend themselves, the Chairman (Prof. 
Manton) refused to readmit them. Thus for the most part 
of the trial the majority of the accused were not even 
permitted to be present. The penalties eventually handed 
down were: 

(1) The only non Labor Club member charged was 
acquitted. 

(2) One Labor Club member received a $20 ‘ ne which 
was later dropped on appeal. 


102 



■ 


(3) The six other Labor Club members. received ‘sus¬ 
pended expulsions’, i.e., were told that if they 
participated in any more direct action or ‘misconduct’ 
they would be automatically expelled. 

WELL, WHAT HAPPENED TO 17.3? 

After all the ruckus had died down, Dr. Matheson 
announced that Council had decided to temporarily stop 
drafting the Status of Students Statute’. For the time 
being therefore it seemed safe to say ‘we have won’ on 
this issue. The only reason students achieved this small 
success however is that they dared to take direct action 
despite all the attacks and intimidatory statements from 
the Administration. 


103 












104 


The Langer Exclusion 


1970 began badly for progressive students. Albert Langer 
was excluded from further studies at Monash and the 
majority of students at an M.A.S. meeting were prepared 
to accept this repressive action. It was a disappointing 
start to the year on the one hand, and on the other an 
important lesson in the dangers of complacency and 
arrogance on the part of the left. The powerful mass 
movement which was to develop some six months later 
vyas assisted by the lessons of this early failure. 

In order to understand the reasons for the defeat of left- 
wing politics early in 1970, it is necessary to look back 
to the 1969 struggle against the Discipline Statute and 
against the exclusion of students with criminal records. 
The Labor Club had successfully led the campaign which 
ended in the Administration quietly shelving the clauses 
to which students objected. Nevertheless, the Left had 


105 














suffered serious setbacks, which only became apparent 
when the Administration turned from open disciplinary 
measures to ‘behind the scenes’ moves in early 1970. The 
immense publicity campaign against the radicals, described 
in the last chapter had taken effect, both on the 2000 new 
students whose only knowledge of Monash politics was 
through the mass media, and to a lesser extent, on the 
7000 other students. , 

Thus the spectre of sinister Albert Langer and his men 
manipulating students into fearful acts of violence aimed 
at destroying the university was in many students minds. 
Langer himself was the subject of vicious attacks in car¬ 
toons and on talk-back programs, and was hounded by 
the police, being convicted of putting domestic litter in 
a public litter bin (sic!) and framed (later acquitted) of 
selling liquor without a licence. The atmosphere of hysteria 
diverted students from seeing the political nature of 
Langer’s ‘academic’ exclusion to a ‘stop Langer attitude, 
and into believing the Labor Club’s cries of political 
oppression were just another attempt to force a 
confrontation. 

THE ACADEMIC ARGUMENTS 

Since the University authorities chose to conceal their 
attack against radicals under the cover of concern over 
academic qualifications, it is necessary to review the 
academic arguments. Langer’s academic record had been: 

1966 (Faculty of Science) 

Politics I.Credit 

Mathematical Methods I High Distinction 

Physics 1 (A).Distinction 

Mathematics I.Distinction 

1967 (Transfer to Faculty of Arts) 

Pure Mathematics II (1) H . Honours First Class 
Pure Mathematics II (2) H . Honours First Class 
Mathematical Statistics IIB . Distinction 

1968 

Pure Mathematics III A H . Honours First Class 
Politics IIA.Credit 

1969 

Pure Mathematics 410 H Honours Second Class Division B 

He had thus qualified for the degree of Bachelor of Arts 
with Honours. In 1970, he enrolled in the Information 
Science (computing) Department in order to complete a 


106 


Master of Science preliminary year in computing, with a 
view to completing a Masters degree in this field rather 
than in Pure Mathematics. In 1969, as part of his Pure 
Mathematics course, he had completed a third year unit 
in Information Science, and Professor Wallace, Chairman 
of the Information Science Department, had said that he 
‘performed very well in the examination on this unit, 
coming third and second in a class of about 30 students’. 

He was accepted by the Information Science Department 
in early 1970 and given work to do towards an M.Sc. 
Prelim. Professor Wallace stated (13th February, 1970) 
‘Mr. Langer has obvious ability in this field ... he has 
considerable mathematical ability’. 

One month later he was informed by Professor Westfold, 
Dean of Science, that the Dean’s office had overruled the 
decision of the Information Science Department. Professor 
Westfold stated in a letter to Langer (9th February, 1970): 

‘As you were told by Professor Wallace, he regards you as 
no more than marginally qualified. He, therefore, had not 
ma i* e c stron £ recommendation in support of your admission 
Professor Finch (Mathematics) is himself quite clear that 
your performance is inadequate for admission to graduate 
studies in mathematics/ 

The first point contradicts Professor Wallace’s com¬ 
ments, and the second was denied on the 3rd March by 
Professor Finch, who had just returned from overseas. He 
said that he had discussed with Langer \ . . the possibility 
of doing graduate work in Mathematics but only in terms 
of one particular branch of mathematics ... to my mind 
that does not preclude the possibility of your undertaking 
successful research in some other branch of mathematics’. 
Professor Finch said that he regarded a statement attributed 
to him by Professor Westfold, that had it not been for 
Langer s good academic record in early years he would 
have obtained only third class honours, as a ‘deliberate 
sophistry’. 

Professor Wallace said in a press release: ‘I wish to make 
it quite clear that it was the unanimous decision of my 
department that Mr. Langer was qualified to proceed . . .’ 

In the arguments that followed, two trends emerged, 
each supporting the claim that Langer was being refused 
admission for political reasons. Firstly, the procedures 


107 












followed by the academics concerned were highly irregular. 
There were meetings between the Vice-Chancellor and 
Professor Wallace and there were departmental meetings 
before the Faculty Board meeting that followed the West¬ 
fold statement. The Faculty Board meeting, held on 11th 
February, had a highly ‘stage-managed 7 atmosphere. The 
subsequent release of statements attacking Langer’s 
academic record to the press, before the matter had even 
been raised as an issue within the University, was not only 
a highly irregular breach of confidence, but an admission 
that the exercise was one involving public relations rather 
than academic qualifications. 

The second indication that it had been decided to 
remove Langer before any reasons for doing so were 
formulated, was the fact that the University authorities 
kept putting forward new reasons for their decision after 
their original ones had been rebutted. 

It was later claimed by Professors Westfold and 
Holloway (16th March, 1970) that ‘there had been no 
previous case at Monash of a graduate with an honours 
degree being admitted to an M.Sc. preliminary course 
immediately after honours year’. In fact one student had 
been admitted to an M.Sc. Prelim, course in Information 
Science with a third class honours degree from Melbourne 
University. The learned professors had apparently for¬ 
gotten about this. 

In a letter to the Public Affairs Committee (26th 
February) and in a statement to the Age (2nd March), 
Professor Westfold claimed that at least a 2A honours 
degree was required to proceed to graduate work. This 
statement, which was repeated frequently by D.L.P. Club 
members, and in Free Speech was quite irrelevant whether 
it was true or not. Langer had not applied directly to do 
a Master’s or a Ph.D.; he applied to do an M.Sc. Prelim. 
The minimum pre-requisite for ‘prelims’ has always been 
a pass degree. In fact, in 1969 six students were admitted 
to M.Sc. Prelim with B.Sc. pass degrees and no additional 
qualifications. (Science Faculty Board, Document numbers 
16/1969, 23/1969, and 84/1969.) One must assume that 
the assertion that Langer was not qualified for admission 
to the Master’s degree was made consciously to confuse 
people into thinking that he was not qualified to do an 


108 


M.Sc. Prelim. As a matter of fact the statement was also 
untrue as regards full Master’s degrees and the Faculty 
records also show that it was quite normal in previous 
years for candidates with Langer’s qualifications to proceed 
directly to full Master’s degrees. 

It was of course much easier for Professor Westfold 
to issue his statements to the press than it was for the 
Labor Club to persuade students to follow the ins and 
outs of all this in order to determine for themselves 
whether or not a respected academic was lying to them. 

The next reason to be added was that Langer was not a 
bona fide applicant, as he had also applied for entry into 
the Faculties of Law and Economics and Politics. This 
claim was made by Professors Westfold and Holloway on 
16th March. It was also made by Mr. Butchart, the 
Academic Registrar, in a letter to Langer, which included 
statements like Tn view of your unsatisfactory perform¬ 
ances in Politics’ (he had achieved two credits in this 
subject!) and *. . . you are making indiscriminate efforts 
to enter any faculty of the University’. (The standard 
V.U.A.C. form on which Langer applied has space for a 
number of preferences, which Langer filled in.) 

The lies and distortions faithfully and abundantly 
echoed in Free Speech were refuted one by one, though 
that bastion of liberalism, adopting the methods of the 
daily press, never once saw fit to retract. Free Speech 
went so far as to quote Professor Finch, who opposed 
the exclusion, as saying he supported it. Since the broad¬ 
sheet was published on the day of an M.A.S. meeting, the 
lie could not be refuted before the vote on the matter. 

THE M.A.S. REACTION 

In the second week of term an M.A.S. meeting was 
called to decide student policy on the issue. Each speaker 
in turn got up and argued about the various ins and outs 
of academia, quoting from this professor, that professor, 
and generally adding confusion to confusion. When the 
vote was finally taken, the meeting appeared to be evenly 
divided and Chairman Warwick Nelson announced that 
another M.A.S. meeting would be held as soon as possible 
to make a definite decision on the matter. By this stage 


109 










the left was finally beginning to realize that students did 
not really understand the arguments and were so confused 
by all the facts and figures placed before them that they 
had simply decided to give the benefit of the doubt to the 
right rather than to the left. Therefore the Labor Club 
decided to encourage every member to go around the 
campus talking to students about the whole affair to find 
out how deep the reaction against the left really was, and 
on what basis the rest of the campaign should be fought. 
The results of this investigation were rather frightening 
from the left point of view. 

It was quite clearly confirmed that first year students 
and many later year ones did have a bigoted attitude 
towards the Labor Club. Most of those talked to admitted 
quite plainly that they didn’t care about the academic 
arguments and were quite unashamedly prepared to take 
the position that Langer was a ‘stirrer’ and should there¬ 
fore be excluded whatever his academic standing and 
abilities. Generally, those students who had more personal 
contact with left-wing politics were more sympathetic than 
those who had less. 

The second M.A.S. meeting came up with most students 
still completely confused and bewildered by the streams 
of ‘facts’ and ‘counter facts’ being distributed to them 
from all sides. Right wing speakers got up at the meeting 
and reeled off long lists of statements such as ‘Langer 
failed 4th year but was “bumped up’”; ‘Langer wants 
a second chance’; ‘Langer wants to deprive other students 
of their rightful places in M.Sc. Prelim, so that he can 
stir on campus’; ‘No one with less than a 2A honour is 
admitted to M.Sc.’ Left-wing speakers stood up to refute 
these arguments and discovered that it is easier to lie in 
a three minute speech than to refute a lie by more than 
bold assertion in the same time. The meeting again 
became bogged down in detailed debate on academic 
questions and once again the real political basis of the 
objection to Langer was not brought out. The left should 
have consistently tied the academic reasons for Langer’s 
exclusion to the political reasons: this would have given 
students a much clearer understanding of the whole issue. 
It is probably also true that many of the left (and the 
D.L.P. Club) did not fully understand the workings of 


110 


Faculty Boards and admission policies, and could no 
successfully counter the false academic arguments. Thu 
when the vote came, the meeting voted against con 
demning Westfold for excluding Langer by about 110( 
votes to 900. 

M.A.S. REVERSES ITS POSITION 

After being rejected from Monash, Langer applied to dc 
the same course at Melbourne University. The authorities 
at Melbourne agreed that his qualifications were quite 
adequate for the course and the Department agreed tc 
admit him. However he was eventually excluded after the 
Professorial Board dug up an old regulation which required 
for any applicant from another university to produce a 
certificate of ‘good name and character’ if requested from 
the authorities at that institution. Naturally Administration 
refused to give Langer any such certificate. 

After the failure of the early M.A.S. meeting to take a 
stand against his exclusion from the university Langer 
decided to attend lectures in order to do some private 
work. He approached Professor Wallace and was given 
permission to attend lectures in Information Science. 

The matter was discussed on the University Council 
and the Academic Registrar drafted a directive requiring 
anyone, (even a graduate), to obtain permission from him 
to attend lectures, and then denied Langer permission. 

This action on the part of the Administration, coupled 
with his exclusion from Melbourne University, led students 
to reflect on the whole issue. Many concluded that his 
exclusion from M.Sc. Prelim., too, was on political, rather 
than academic grounds. 

At a later stage in the year, when all this had come 
out, and the first year students had become more integrated 
into Monash life, a further M.A.S. meeting was" held 
which, although smaller than the previous ones, voted 
overwhelmingly to demand that Langer be immediately 
re-instated. The overwhelming vote resulted because no 
effort was made to confuse the issue with ‘academic’ lies 
and instead at this meeting some of the right-wingers 
demonstrated a burst of honesty by getting up and support¬ 
ing the Administration on the grounds that Langer should 
not be admitted to Monash because he gave the place a 


111 









‘bad’ name. This was the only time they admitted their 
real position. So far the Administration has not followed 
suit. 

POSTSCRIPT 

The campaign against the expulsions which occurred 
soon after this M.A.S. meeting precluded any real cam¬ 
paign against Langer’s exclusion specially. However 
A.U.S. (Australian Union of Students) took a stand and 
attacked the Monash administration. Langer was later 
asked by this body to formally apply for admittance to 
every university in Australia, in order to test the repressive- 
ness of university administrations overall. He, and the 
three expelled Monash students (see later chapter) did 
this at the end of 1970. They were rejected by every 
university in Australia. 

Langer also put in an application for Dip.Ed. at Monash, 
a course for which there was no doubt he was qualified. 
Letters went out to all students who had been selected 
by 17th January so that enrolment could begin on the 
20th Langer did not receive a letter. When he enquired 
at the Dip.Ed. Faculty he was told his application was 
being processed separately and the results of this would 
not be known for about a week! His application 
had been handed over to Dr. Matheson for his personal 
consideration since the selection committee felt it could 
not make the decision. Finally, two weeks late, he was 
reluctantly admitted to the faculty. Obviously, Langer was 
given ‘special’ consideration because of his political views, 
but having insisted that his exclusion was on academic 
grounds, Administration were left with no alternative but 
to admit him to Dip.Ed. 

Strangely, having been admitted to Education, Langer 
was suddenly eligible for Law and to sit-in on other lec¬ 
tures. He was even told that his application for M.Sc. 
Prelim could be reconsidered! 

The inconsistencies and contradictions which charac¬ 
terized the actions of Administration were revealed 
gradually through these subsequent events. Many students 
who had previously accepted the arguments that Langer 
was ‘academically unqualified' began to doubt the credi- 


112 


bility and the authority of Administration statements. The 
seriousness of this cannot be overestimated. Previously 
students might have thought that the learned Deans and’ 
Professors that ran the University were wrong, or even 
that they were reactionary. But to discover that some of 
them were outright unscrupulous liars was quite a different 
matter. The tactic of disguising their political aims with 
deliberate lies gave Admin a temporary victory . . . simply 
because students just didn't expect academics, supposedly 

dedicated to ‘the quest for truth’, to be lying to them _ 

they preferred to believe that it was the left who were 
lying. But in the long run it was inevitable that students 
would see through the lies and come to resent those who 
had made use of their positions to deceive them. \ 

By resorting to open dishonesty the Administration lost j 
one of its most important assets — the aura of ‘authority’ ! 
which is created around all established institutions and 
the particular aura that is created around the myth of 1 
academic freedom at universities. For the large minority 
who knew all along that the majority had been deliberately 
deceived, it was no great step to go from recognizing that 
senior academics were liars to recognizing that their whole 
job in running the University was based on lying — that 
it involved preserving and disseminating an ideology based / 
on lies, in the name of ‘knowledge’, and in the interests / 
of the U S. imperialist controllers of Australia. 

The bitterness and anger of the minority of students v 
at their defeat spurred them on all the harder to expose 
the Administration's real position through the C & A 
Occupation described in the next chapter Events proved 
that it was not long before the rest of the students woke 
up and joined them in the ensuing struggle. 

The tactic of ‘academic exclusion’ was ultimately 
defeated, although there are still fairly blatant instances of 
discrimination against active radicals through marking 
down essays and exams. A permanent M.A.S? ‘watchdog' 
committee has been established to investigate any com¬ 
plaints of discrimination and no students have been 
excluded unjustly since the establishment of this com¬ 
mittee. 

Nevertheless, the ‘normal' process of requiring students 
to memorize and regurgitate large quantities of bourgeois 


113 









ideology disguised as humanities, or even science, con¬ 
tinues. Students continue to be excluded when they fail to 
satisfy the set requirements of participation in esoteric 
waffle totally unrelated to reality. In Universities, the 
ultimate ‘discipline’ still remains the ‘objective sifting 
carried out by Faculty Boards and Departments inacces¬ 
sible to student scrutiny, usually under the guise of exams. 


The Expulsions 


After the Langer exclusion affair, a somewhat embittered 
left turned its attention to the coming Moratorium (8th 
May) with renewed vigour. This, the first Moratorium, 
was significant at Monash for three reasons. Firstly, because 
large numbers of students and many staff members were 
organized to actually work for the demonstration (publi¬ 
city, marshalling, etc.). Secondly, because the Moratorium 
campaign at Monash was focussed on the real cause of 
the War, the United States’ aggression in Indo-China. 
Thirdly, because an estimated 5000 Monash students and 
staff were mobilized to march in the Moratorium, causing 
a virtual halt to the normal University processes. 

This intense activity before the Moratorium became 
the model for the organization of campaigns for the rest 
of the year. The structure that was established — general 
meetings making important policy decisions, a Steering 
Committee to co-ordinate activities, and a number of 
committees that students could work with, such as Faculty 
groups, a publicity committee, and an off-campus com- 

115 











mittee — has worked effectively in a number of different 
campaigns since. 

It was in response to the Moratorium activity that the 
whole question of the University’s neutrality was re¬ 
examined. This question was raised when Professor Feith 
addressed a Graduation Ceremony and urged those present 
to march. Students began questioning the Administration’s 
policy that a university can, or should, be neutral on 
political issues — a policy expressed by Dr. Matheson in 
a letter to The Bulletin (6th June, 1970). Here he said 
that he felt ‘qualified disapproval’ of the cancellation of 
classes on the day of the Moratorium, and that ‘my 
attitude has always been that the University as a whole 
must be politically neutral whatever the beliefs of its 
individual members’. Many students who began questioning 
the validity of this, concluded that the University’s so- 
called ‘neutrality’ was merely a facade. Rather, it tended 
to be positively occupied in maintaining the Capitalist 
status quo by . providing submissive graduates to man the 
system, just when it ought to have been questioning estab¬ 
lished values, especially on issues like ecology, the Vietnam 
War, etc. The occupation of the Careers and Appointments 
(C. & A.) Office in July brought the debate to the fore. 

Following the Moratorium, however, there was a period 
of calm, while public attention was diverted to the new 
enfant terrible. La Trobe, where students were preventing 
the Defence Department from conducting interviews. It 
seemed that Warwick Nelson’s statement as retiring 
Chairman of M.A.S. to The Age on 25th April was coming 
true: 

‘I don’t think we’ll have a year like last year. 

1 think there’ll be a general reaction to the events of 
last year.’ 

In fact political activity in 1970 turned out to be greater 
than any other year at Monash. This sort of prediction 
occurs regularly as conservatives try to ignore the growth 
of Left political awareness. 

THE C. & A. OCCUPATION 

During the Moratorium period the left at Monash had 
been consistently putting forward the view that the Vietnam 
War was caused by the United States’ imperialism; that it 


116 


was a war to protect United States’ capitalism both 
materially and ideologically. At that time a lot of Mora¬ 
torium activists had rejected this view, saying that the war 
was some sort of ‘accident’ or ‘mistake’, or that it was 
caused because the U.S. had ‘bad’ or ‘mad’ presidents 
and so on. The Labor Club, which had consistently sup¬ 
ported the N.L.F. (since 1967) took the hard line view 
that the United States was an imperialist power which 
quite deliberately waged wars all over the world and in 
particular wherever people challenged its interests, 
economic, military, or political. Further it claimed that 
the U.S. had imperialist designs on Australia and was 
rapidly extending its economic, cultural, political and 
military influence here as well as getting Australians to 
ficht in Vietnam. Big capitalist monopolies, particularly 
U.S. ones, caused and profited from wars like Vietnam 
and exploited people in Australia and all over the world. 
It was they who had to be fought, because they were the 
real enemies. 

When the U.S. monopoly Honeywell came to the 
Careers and Appointments Office to interview students, 
the Labor Club put out leaflets explaining that Honeywell 
was making 40% of its total profit from supplying the 
U.S. army with weapons, in particular anti-personnel 
bombs. A rally was called, and about one hundred angry 
students stormed up to the C. & A. Office and threatened 
to physically drive the Honeywell representatives off 
campus. The Honeywell representatives beat a hasty 
retreat! This relatively minor demonstration was really the 
beginning of the now well known ‘Careers and Appoint¬ 
ments Office’ Occupation. The question of Honeywell on 
campus raised the whole question of university neutrality 
in a very concrete way. 

For several months Print and other Labour Club publica¬ 
tions had been propogating the views expressed above. 
However at the broadsheet level these ideas were bound 
to remain fairly abstract as far as most students were 
concerned and nobody really took very much notice . . . 
that is, until the C & A affair. 

The last week in June was Anti-Imperialism Week both 
on and off-campus. This was the week leading up to the 


117 











traditional 4th July (U.S. Independence Day) demonstra¬ 
tion. On campus the Labor Club decided that some¬ 
thing must be done at Monash to highlight the role of U.S. 
imperialism and its capitalist partners in the world today. 

An M.A.S. meeting was held on Monday, 29th June 
and motions were passed declaring the war in Vietnam to 
be a direct product of U.S. imperialism, declaring support 
for the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (Viet 
Cong), authorizing collections for the N.L.F. and sup¬ 
porting the anti-U.S. imperialist demonstrations to be held 
on 3rd and 4th July. 

Immediately after this meeting about fifty students 
occupied the Careers and Appointments Office with the 
express intentions of taking it over until 3rd July and 
using it as an anti-imperialist organizing centre. The 
reasons for the occupation were outlined in the broad¬ 
sheet Occupation News 3: 

‘1. To point out how this University serves capitalism instead 
of the majority of the working people. 

2. To discontinue the activities of the C & A Office which 
is designed to provide cadres for capitalism (Uni. gradu¬ 
ates) and promote and further their exploitation and their 
imperialist aims. 

3. To use this office as a base for the publication and dis¬ 
semination of literature—to promote the 3rd and 4th 
July demonstrations and anti-imperialism in general. 

4. To protest at the use of the Monash computer centre for 
Defence Department contract work while the Defence 
Department is actively aiding United States’ aggression 
in Vietnam. 

5. To draw attention to the Vice-Chancellor’s M.U.S.I.C. 
(Monash University Scientific and Industrial Community) 
scheme whereby the University will provide the facilities 
of an “academic merchant bank” (Matheson’s phrase). 

6. To protest at the moves to prevent Albert Langer from 
sitting in on lectures.’ 

The occupation itself lasted three days, then the longest 
occupation in any Australian university. It was an ‘occupa¬ 
tion’ in the true sense of the word in that the office was 
completely taken over and prevented from performing its 
normal functions. Every hour on the hour for the first day, 
administration officials arrived to recite their ‘reasonable 
order to leave the office’. Every hour on the hour students 
were guilty of disobeying a ‘reasonable order’. Matheson 
issued a statement that administration policy was one of 


118 


‘non-violent containment of invasion’. In effect this meant 
that during the daytime security guards were assigned the 
duty of ‘containing’ the occupiers to approximately one 
half of the office complex, and during the evening and 
night (beginning at 5.00 p.m. when Admin officialdom 
knocks off) ‘triffid’ activity was able to expand throughout 
the entire office area and into the student counselling 
office while the security men, in the absence of their 
superiors, enjoyed hot cups of coffee and exchanged 
experiences with the occupiers. Most activity went on at 
night because this was the period of least surveillance 
from Admin and most free time for the occupiers. Each 
night all the duplicating machines of the C. & A. student 
counselling offices whirred and clacked continually as anti¬ 
imperialist leaflets were stockpiled in preparation for the 
‘lean daylight hours’. Students slept in four-hour shifts, 
each group waking in turn to shoulder part of the work¬ 
load in preparation for the long day ahead. During the 
three days approximately thirty leaflets were produced. 

One of Admin’s attempts at harassment of the occupiers 
was the stealing of all the phones. Unperturbed by this, 
Labor Club technical experts proceeded to rewire on$ 
office and attach a handset to the phone cables. Then 
Admin notified the switchboard to cut off all calls to and 
from the C. & A. Office. Once again technical experts 
were called in, the C. & A. Office ended up with a private 
phone number known only to the occupiers and friends. 

On the second day word reached the occupiers that 
about one hundred engineering students were marching 
on the office to ‘physically throw them out’. The front 
doors were hastily locked and barricaded while the 
occupiers held a hasty and tense conference. It was finally 
decided almost unanimously that since they were confident 
of the moral correctness of their position they should open 
the doors and invite these students in for a look around 
the place and for discussion. Accordingly it was done, and 
the vigilante squad, surprised at not being met by a violent 
mob of non-student delinquents whom they had read 
about in the newspapers, accepted the invitation and came 
in for a tour of inspection followed by coffee and discus¬ 
sion. This was perhaps the most beneficial afternoon of the 
whole occupation. The occupiers and the Engineering 


119 







students succeeded in getting on very well and both groups 
learnt from each other. Much of the active hostility towards 
the occupation began to die down after this because the 
occupiers formally instituted a policy of inviting all inter¬ 
ested students to come up to the office and see what was 
going on there. As a result of this about one thousand 
students ‘toured’ the office showing an active interest in 
the issues raised by the occupation. However, a large 
majority of students remained apathetic towards events 
in the C & A Office until several months later when the 
campaign against the expulsions confronted them. 

The Administration attempted to stop the steady flow 
of students through the office by placing a huge sign at 
the entrance stating that the office was out of bounds to 
all students and any student identified as having entered 
the office for any reason would be disciplined. When this 
did not work they decided to institute siege tactics. This 
was done by blocking all the doorways with security 
guards and refusing to let out any student without first 
identifying him/herself to the authorities. Photographers 
from Admin waited next to the security men. 

Eventually about twenty of those inside put newspaper 
masks over their faces and rushed out of the offices 
evading remarkably feeble attempts at capture from the 
guards. The few people who now remained in the offices 
were nearly all ‘well-known lefties’ and knew that Admin 
would try to ‘get’ them after the occupation anyway. 
However it was conscious Labor Club Committee policy 
to have a second-line of activists not as open to repression 
as the first. 

The people remaining were in a very difficult position. 
Tf they had vacated the office alongside the others then 
Admin would have been able to physically shut down the 
office. Leaving was therefore out of the question. But 
staying on under the existing circumstances was also 
impossible. Thus they came to a difficult decision. They 
agreed to open the doors to the inner office and identify 
themselves to Admin if in return the authorities would 
‘free’ the door and let the occupation continue as before 
until 3rd July. The doors were opened to a procession of 
Deans, faculty rolls in hands, followed by Admin officials 
who proceeded to search all the people-sized cupboards, 


120 


and annexes. The students gave their names, the proces¬ 
sion left, never to return and the doors were opened so 
that the occupation could continue. 

The fact that the authorities agreed so readily to let the 
protest continue provided the small number remaining 
gave their names, indicated that they were more concerned 
with preparing for a purge of ‘ringleaders’ than with stop¬ 
ping the occupation. If they had refused to accept this 
compromise then the whole thing would have been over 
very shortly. Instead they chose to get positive identifica¬ 
tion of just a few participants and let the terrible ‘invasion’ 
go on. 

On Friday, 3rd July the occupiers marched out of the 
office, singing Solidarity Forever and leaving the office spic 
and span for the return of its usual occupiers. 

The press, and the ‘University Officials’ they quoted, 
tried to isolate the occupying students. The Sun (1st July) 
quoted University officials as saying that ‘these people were 
only professional rabble-rousers’, and a ‘fair percentage 
were not Monash students’. 

A Herald editorial of 7th July, filled with moral outrage, 
was typical of that newspaper: 

‘It is distressing to think what would happen if these young 
men-—being afforded the benefits of tertiary education at 
public expense—carried into adult life the petulant defiance 
of majority rule which they now so disruptively espouse.’ 

A large general meeting of the Monash Association of 
Students dissociated itself from the occupation but voted 
against allowing the University Administration to deal with 
the students as it wished. Indeed a sizeable section of the 
left disagreed with the decision to hold the occupation for 
one reason or another. Some thought that it was tactically 
wrong because insufficient attention had been given to 
gaining support on the issues from the students as a 
whole, and that the occupiers would therefore be unable 
to be protected from the probable attempts at disciplinary 
action by Admin. Some thought this disciplinary action 
would include mass expulsions of Labor Club activists and 
criticised the occupation tactic as being* adventurist. Some 
also believed that the occupation was theoretically wrong, 
saying that even if sufficient student support could be 
gained, the ensuing struggle would be on what they con¬ 
sidered to be the purely liberal grounds that ‘students 


121 







should not be victimised by Admin for political activity’, 
and that the issues of capitalism and imperialism would be 
buried in the liberal rhetoric. Nevertheless many of the 
opponents of the occupation assisted in its operation after 
a Labor Club meeting had agreed to launch it. 

Nonetheless, discipline proceedings were instituted on 
7th July against nine students, purportedly the only ones 
identifiable during the three day occupation. They were 
charged with failing to obey a reasonable order to leave 
the C. & A. Office. The proceedings took place under the 
old discipline statute which had been almost universally 
condemned by the students and staff of the University. 

The nine charged students refused to attend the ‘trial’ 
on the grounds that they did not recognize the court 
because it would not consider the reasons for their actions 
and was only concerned with whether or not they had 
disobeyed an order and because it consisted of reactionary 
Deans who had no right to ‘judge’ them. Also, the students 
had learned by hard personal experience in 1969 that it 
was a complete waste of time attending Discipline trials 
because any ‘defence’ only caused the trial to drag out 
longer with no effect on the verdict whatever. What the 
‘nine’ wanted was for the trial to be over with as soon ac 
possible, preferably before 3rd term so that if the sentences 
were severe, a mass campaign could be waged against 
them. They informed the Discipline Committee in writing 
of their intention not to appear and requested that the trial 
be completed as soon as possible. However the Discipline 
Committee dragged out the trial as long as possible and 
announced the penalties during the August vacation (11th 
August) though the verdict of ‘guilty’ had been announced 
earlier. This was an obvious bid to prevent the organizing 
of a mass campaign against the sentences. Of the nine 
students, seven were expelled, two for life, one for two 
years, and four for twelve months. Another received 
‘twelve months suspended exclusion’ and the ninth has his 
case adjourned. Appeals could be lodged by 11th Septem¬ 
ber. Matheson, when confronted with criticism about why 
the trial took so long as to be concluded in the vacation, 
stated ‘disciplinary proceedings were drawn out entirely 
because of the tactics of those who were accused, who used 
every means of delaying decisions’ (10th October). This 


122 


N 


was a deliberate distortion. It is interesting to note that 
all expulsions of students from Australian Universities 
(Sydney. Monash, La Trobe, Melbourne) have been 
announced during a vacation. 

The Herald hailed these savage sentences as perhaps 
‘allaying the worst fears of many citizens that dangerous 
minorities would be able to disrupt the life of a great 
University’ (13th August). The Brisbane Truth chimed in 
with the headline ‘Get Rid of These Ratbags’. 

The University Administrators were gambling on the 
usual third term ‘exam fever’ to quell any reaction to these 
sentences. However their gamble lost. Immediately, during 
the vacation, a broadly based group called the ‘United 
Front Against Repression’ was formed to co-ordinate 
activities aimed at getting the nine reinstated. 

Students usually politically inactive, but now shocked 
by the severity of the sentences, came forward and volun¬ 
teered to play an active role in the campaign. It was 
proposed that the struggle be conducted in much the same 
way as the Moratorium, with people who opposed the 
expulsions for any reason whatsoever being encouraged 
to put forward their views and take part in discussions as 
to how the campaign should be waged. Thus revolu¬ 
tionaries who had unconditionally supported the C. & A. 
Occupation found themselves working side by side with 
conservatives who had opposed it but thought the expul¬ 
sions were too harsh a punishment. Though people of 
many different sympathies opposed the expulsions, there 
was one common factor . . . everyone saw them as a 
manifestation of political repression against left-wingers. It 
was widely thought that Admin had jumped at the oppor¬ 
tunity to expel prominent left-wingers in a bid to cut back 
on the general radical activity emanating from Monash. 
Why else were the sentences so severe? Apolitical students 
involved in really serious vandalistic acts during ‘Farm 
Week’ had been given only light fines, yet Labor Club 
anti-imperialists had been expelled for life for organizing 
a political protest. An indication of the depth and breadth 
of the campaign is given by an independent broadsheet 
entitled To All Science and Engineering Students: 

‘I am against the occupation and was one of the leaders of 

the group of engineering students who tried to force them 




123 











out. However, after many hours of discussion I have found 
out their views, and even when they contradict mine, I can 
respect them, and even more when these people stand by 
them. 

However, I cannot, as a member of this university, sit 
idly by while a few people hand down these vicious punish¬ 
ments that have no connection with the crime but are in fact 
practical punishments to suppress radical students/ 

The leaflet was signed. 

THE CAMPAIGN MOUNTS 

As students came back to university on the first day of 
third term they were greeted with huge posters reading 
‘SUPPORT THE NINE’, ‘NO EXPULSIONS’, ‘DEFEAT 
U.S. IMPERIALISM’. An information table was set up in 
the Union to distribute several broadsheets which had 
already been produced. 

A printed statement from the expelled students read 
as follows: 

We are asking students to oppose the expulsions not 
because they were handed down under the old statute, not 
because we want a second chance, not because they were 
too harsh but because we continue to believe that the 
occupation of the C & A Office was a justified and morally 
correct action. . . . 

Who are the real criminals in the C & A Office affair? 
Those big companies which legally occupy each day or the 
students who prevented them from doing this for a short 
period time in order to take a stand against their criminal 
activities in Vietnam and right throughout the rest of the 
world? Who really deserves to be expelled from this 
campus? Those millionaire companies making profits from 
imperialist wars or students who protest against this? 

We believe that the university administration had no 
right to expel or discipline us for our activities against 
these companies. We do not manufacture defoliants with 
which to starve and deform people, we do not design 
missile systems for more efficient bombing, we do not take 
over the Monash Computer centre for research into more 
efficient army communications (the Defence Department 
was using the Computer centre . . . Ed.) we do not manu¬ 
facture anti-personnel bombs, we do not make napalm 
for more efficient burning of human bodies. We have 
joined in the fight against the companies who do these 


124 


things and do not accept the right of Dr. Matheson and 
his administration to expel us for this. 

It has been said that it was undemocratic for us to 
prevent business as usual in the C & A Office. Somehow 
we are supposed to have made an attack on the ‘demo¬ 
cratic right’ of people to work for or own big companies 
such as General Electric, Conzinc Rio Tinto, Honeywell, 
etc. But what is a ‘democratic right’? It is surely not a 
right to kill, exploit, maim and deprive in the interests of 
private profit, ALL of which the above named companies 
do. We say that these big corporations have no democratic 
rights and that furthermore it is justified and necessary 
for all people to struggle against them in every way pos¬ 
sible. The fact that Honeywell, C.R.A., G.E., are all legal 
in Australia makes no difference. Their legality is a clear 
demonstration of what interests are served by law and 
order in this country. 

We did not attend the trial because we saw it as a 
complete farce organised by people who had already made 
it quite clear that they supported the so-called ‘rights’ of 
imperialist companies. The only grounds upon which we 
could possibly defend our actions are political (i.e., in 
terms of our opposition to imperialism). The only thing 
that the administration regarded as relevant to the case 
was whether or not we had obeyed a particular order. . . . 
Despite their refusal to consider imperialism as a part of 
the trial, it is quite clear that the people who judged us 
had a particular hatred for our political beliefs . . . other¬ 
wise they would have handed down the normal $20 fine 
which was given to ‘Farm Week’ stirrers for participating 
in apolitical, violent and expensive pranks. Surprisingly(?) 
enough, we received expulsions and suspensions. Quite 
obviously disruption at this university is quite permissible 
when apolitical but the worst offence possible when 
directed at the rights of monopoly, imperialist companies. 

At 1.00 p.m. that day, the Labor Club held its own 
anti-expulsions rally in the Union, attended by over 1000 
people. Feeling at the rally was solidly and militantly 
against the expulsions. 

The next day an M.A.S. meeting attended by approxi¬ 
mately 3000 students overwhelmingly passed a series of 
anti-expulsions motions including one which stated that 


125 







M.A.S. would continue to recognize the expelled students 
as members of Monash University. This was a reply from 
M.A.S. to letters which the expelled students had received 
from the Vice-Chancellor, stating that they had ‘no rights 
as students or as members of the public to enter the 
Monash University campus’, and threatening legal action 
if they ‘trespassed’. Another M.A.S. meeting held a few 
days later voted to organize a lecture boycott to coincide 
with a Council meeting due to be held on 14th September. 
It was at this point that the campaign really took off. 

Each faculty set up an anti-expulsions steering com¬ 
mittee to publish regular faculty newsheets and to call a 
faculty meeting to organize for the boycott. M.A.S. had 
authorized $500 to be given to an anti-Discipline Com¬ 
mittee consisting of the expelled students who were to help 
co-ordinate all the activity. An office in the Union was 
used as ‘headquarters’ for the struggle. This office was a 
hive of activity. Charts covered all the walls listing which 
faculties had held general meetings, how many picket lines 
had already been organized, the tutors and lecturers who 
had already notified M.A.S. that they would be cancelling 
classes on 14th September, what jobs needed to be done, 
who was on roster that day and the names and addresses 
of the emergency ‘typing pool’. Students who had never 
done more than vote at M.A.S. meetings were now putting 
out leaflets, calling meetings in their faculties and making 
speeches. For the first time it was not just up to the com¬ 
mitted radicals to do the hard work, make all the speeches 
and generally ‘push things along’. Hundreds of students 
were doing all this now. 

By the end of the first week of third term there had 
been one mass rally, two M.A.S. meetings, a symbolic 
‘brick-in’ of the Admin building and a large number of 
faculty general meetings. Week two began with a large 
M.A.S. meeting reaffirming all previous decisions and the 
expelled students being officially constituted as an M.A.S. 
Committee with a $500 budget. At this point Admin 
threatened to cut off M.A.S. funds. This threat temporarily 
halted some of the moderates who were afraid that if the 
anti-expulsions movement continued there would be no 
money in the M.A.S. coffers for the coming 18th Septem¬ 
ber Moratorium. However when the mass of students 


126 


continued to take a firm stand, Admin backed down and 
was forced to ignore the fact that the M.A.S. Discipline 
Committee was using hundreds of dollars worth of M.A.S. 
petty cash, paper, ink and roneoing facilities. 

Two days later, on 9th September, the Alexander 
Theatre was packed out for a staff/student forum on 
Political Repression. Dr. Birrell, a lecturer in Sociology, 
was one of the main speakers and announced that he would 
defy the Administration by treating the expelled students 
as ordinary students and allowing them to attend lectures 
and sit for exams. (Several of those expelled were Sociology 
students.) Perhaps the best received speech came from 
Beau Reed, Union House Manager and an employee of 
Admin, who laid his own job on the line by daring to 
speak out against the expulsions, linking them with 
Admin’s bad treatment of campus workers. The whole 
theatre resounded with cheers and morale was incredibly 
lifted at this very concrete demonstration of the united 
front that was developing around the anti-expulsions move¬ 
ment. The isolation of Admin was becoming more and 
more evident with each passing day. 

Next day, yet another M.A.S. meeting was held. This 
meeting voted to combine all Monash Moratorium activity 
and the struggle against the expulsions with leaflets, 
speeches, rallies uniting the struggle against repression with 
the struggle against U.S. aggression in Vietnam. By this 
time statements of support for those expelled had come 
in from both the official Moratorium Secretariat and from 
the Draft Resisters Union. It was also decided to occupy 
the whole Union building twenty-four hours a day as an 
organizing centre for the joint campaigns, with duplicating 
equipment, typewriters, and paper being supplied in the 
Union foyer to be used freely by any student who wanted 
to join in the fight. While this M.A.S. meeting was going 
on. Sociology staff were also meeting to discuss the current 
situation. This resulted in a unanimous decision to back 
Dr. Birrell in his firm stand against the expulsions. 

The last day of that second week saw more Faculty 
general meetings, more pledges of support from staff and 
an M.A.S. referendum which voted overwhelmingly against 
the expulsions. 


127 






BOYCOTT 

The Boycott was held on Monday, 14th September in 
an atmosphere of intense urgency. Everyone now realized 
that Admin was relying on exams to cut short the struggle, 
but this just made people all the more determined to fight 
harder. A printed broadsheet BOYCOTT published by 
the M.A.S., Discipline Committee, was distributed on the 
morning of the Boycott. It read: 

‘To urge each and every person working in this university 
to boycott their classes and work is a big demand. However 
the seriousness of the issue calls for serious action. This 
broadsheet is not simply a request for all of you to make a 
few sacrifices. Rather it is an attempt to say that this repres¬ 
sion, if it doesn’t affect you now, will hit you sooner or later. 
And the only way you can stop this wave of repression is to 
fight it.’ 

A roneod insert to this broadsheet added: 

‘Legally the next course open to the expelled students is an 
appeal to the University Council. 

The Council is the supreme ruling body of Monash and 
meets once a month to ponder administrative matters and 
decide on all aspects of university policy. Unfortunately, 
however, Council is not composed of students, staff and 
workers, all concerned with discovering new ways to help 
build a university which is run in the interests of the vast 
majority of working people. Instead, a large number of its 
members come directly from industry and are therefore 
in favour of preserving the university as an institution which 
serves the big industrialists who effectively rule this country 
at the expense of the majority of the population. Would these 
men be any more sympathetic to the disciplined students 
(without having their hands forced by militant demonstra¬ 
tions from thousands of students) than the first discipline 
committee was?’ 

Dr. Cairns who was at Monash to speak on the Mora¬ 
torium, agreed to follow the M.A.S. policy of linking the 
Moratorium and the expulsions by speaking from the steps 
of Admin to the assembled boycotters. 

At 1.00 p.m. about 4000 people gathered to hear him 
speak and to participate in the anti-expulsions rally. At 
2.15 p.m. when the official boycott of lectures began about 
2500 students and staff remained. The rest of the Boycott 
was a bit of an anti-climax. As the afternoon wore on and 
people began to get tired of standing listening to speeches 
and waiting for some response from Council it became 
more and piore obvious that the meeting going on inside 
had not the slightest intention of taking any notice of the 


128 


mass vigil outside. Finally the rally sent in a formal request, 
asking that a delegation representing the Boycott be 
admitted to the Council meeting. Forty minutes later angry 
students broke into the basement of the building saying 
that they would stay there until Council indicated its 
willingness to at least hear what they had to say. About 
ten minutes later a hurried messenger scurried into the 
basement and announced that the delegation would be 
heard by Council provided everyone left the building. 
Accordingly the basement was vacated ' and students 
resumed their waiting posts outside. It was at this stage 
that a man was seen photographing students from inside 
the Admin building. 

Finally when the rally had dwindled to half its original 
size, the delegation returned with the announcement that 
Council, in its infinite wisdom and justice, had granted the 
expelled students an extra week in which to lodge their 
appeals. 

Morale was low at the end of the Boycott. Thousands 
of students and staff had shown their opposition to Admin 
with no apparent effect. Obviously those opposing the 
expulsions were going to have to do more than ‘lodge their 
protests’. The ‘legitimate means of protest’ were simply 
having no effect. Other means would have to be tried. 

Next day an M.A.S. meeting was held. It was here that 
the tactic of occupation was first formally proposed. The 
Boycott had obviously failed in its primary aim of per¬ 
suading Council to readmit the students. Militant speakers 
put forward the argument that the only thing the authorities 
would listen to was mass direct action. The majority of 
students at the meeting were still reluctant to give their 
support to an occupation however. Common arguments 
were: ‘We’ll have to break in to the Admin building.’ ‘More 
people will be expelled.’ ‘The expelled students should 
appeal and only if this last legal channel has been proved 
useless should we consider occupying.’ It was this last 
argument which swung the meeting and the occupation 
motion was lost. 

After the meeting the expelled students held a tense 
discussion. What could be done now? It looked as if the 
whole struggle was going to slowly peter out with an almost 


129 







complete victory going to Admin. So far they had taken 
the line that not only would it be useless to appeal to 
Council, it would also be dangerous. Such an appeal would 
almost certainly not be heard until exam time and moderate 
students would be able to put off any direct action on the 
basis that ‘we have to wait until the appeals are over’. 
Now that a large number of students had clearly indicated 
that they felt an appeal should be lodged, the expelled 
students changed their minds. Reluctantly they took the 
decision to immediately lodge applications to appeal. At 
the same time they decided that it was essential to demand 
that the hearings be held within the next week. If this 
demand was not met it would be pretty obvious that 
Administration was stalling until exam time and direct 
action would once again become a serious possibility. The 
Appeals were formally lodged on Wednesday, 16th Sep¬ 
tember and accompanying them was the following ‘open 
letter’: 

‘We the undersigned disciplined students wish to appeal 
against the recent disciplinary proceedings which we have 
been involved in. We appeal not only against the severity 
of the sentences but against our conviction on the charge 
of “misconduct”. We do this on the grounds that we do not 
believe there were any reasonable grounds for the Discipline 
Committee to convict us or to hand down any penalties 
whatsoever. The whole proceedings were completely unjust 
and can only be seen as an attempt to suppress left-wing 
activity on this campus. 

We also wish to request that the appeal take the form 
of a mass democratic hearing in which the whole university 
has the opportunity to vote on the verdict and penalty. 
Such a hearing has already been overwhelmingly supported 
by M.A.S. and as far as we are concerned is the only way 
that we can be assured of a fair and just hearing. This is 
particularly true since the majority of Council members have 
strong links with big business and definitely support the 
strengthening of links between Monash and industry; they 
therefore cannot be expected to act in an impartial way 
towards students who have been disciplined for disrupting 
industry on campus. In short, we feel that Council is in no 
position to judge us and should therefore hand over its power 
in this matter to the whole university . . . thousands of 
whom have already shown an interest. 

Furthermore, we request that the appeal be heard immedi¬ 
ately. Already exams are approaching and we feel that it is 
necessary for the decision on the Appeal to be made before 
the majority of the university is too bogged down in exams 


130 


to take an interest. The past record of the Discipline Com¬ 
mittee has been one of stalling all decisions of importance 
to times when the majority of students are not around and 
cannot protest against any injustice which may have occurred. 
In any case this is such a vital issue that it should not be 
shelved even for a day or two. 

‘We have appealed mainly because we feel that the majority 
of Monash students want us to. We have not appealed 
because we have any particular faith in the glorious justice 
of Council. We are relying on the willingness of staff and 
students to fight injustice rather than on the likelihood of 
injustice not occurring.* 

This statement was signed by each of the expelled 
students and delivered to the secretary of Council. It was 
also published in Print. 

THE GREAT DEBATE 

Thursday, 17th September was a turning point in the 
campaign. The Administration (probably believing the 
height of the storm to have passed) agreed to attend a 
public debate on the whole question . . . providing no 
expelled students were members of the M.A.S. debating 
side. This debate took place in the Alexander Theatre and 
was relayed to other lecture theatres. During the debate, 
the Administration side consistently refused to attempt to 
justify the expulsions; instead they concentrated on the 
‘plot to wreck the university’ theme. 

It was here that Matheson made his classic ‘analysis’ — 
‘It all started with Print ' — and then went on to say that 
Monash had never been the same since a ‘small minority’ 
of students collected money for the ‘Viet Cong’ (his words) 
in 1967. This debate helped the anti-expulsion movement 
immeasurably! Many students left the debate feeling that 
Admin had been ‘caught out’ on several lies and distor¬ 
tions. Professor Selby Smith claimed that Left-wing 
student newsheets had been ‘consistently lying’. At first 
he refused to give any examples but when the whole 
audience began jeering and an interjector called out ‘prove 
it’, he made three claims. The first was that Print had 
been lying when it stated that a girl had been hit over the 
head with a chair by an Administration bureaucrat during 
the invasion of the Administration basement on Boycott 
day. At this point a girl jumped up in the audience and 
called out, ‘That girl was me ... I was hit over the head 


131 






with a chair.’ (The same girl later visited him with a 
number of witnesses and succeeded in convincing him, but 
he still refused to make a public retraction.) Secondly he 
claimed that Print had again been lying when it alleged 
that a police photographer was inside the Administration 
building and photographing students through the windows 
on Boycott day. He was stumped when it was pointed out 
to him that no press photographers had been allowed in 
the Administration building on Boycott day and that this 
same man had attempted to arrest a Monash student at a 
recent anti-conscription demonstration. Thirdly he claimed 
that the P.A.C. Research Bulletin was lying when it claimed 
that a student had only been fined $10 for knocking some¬ 
one unconscious by dropping a missile from the top of the 
Menzies Building. This did happen but the Research 
Bulletin’s ‘mistake’ was that nobody was disciplined for it! 
Next day P.A.C. published a retraction of the $10 fine 
allegation. 

Matheson too based his little speech on a series of what 
left-wingers politely defined as ‘untruths’. He started by 
‘justifying’ the expulsions with a statement that violence 
had characterized the C. & A. Occupation and in particular 
that a ‘60-year-old staff member’ had been knocked over 
and kicked. Not only did the incident never occur but 
even the Discipline Committee and all its right-wing 
witnesses never found such an incident to have occurred. 
In fact the prosecution never even alleged that such a 
thing had happened and there was no reference to it in 
the transcript of the trial. 

Both Matheson and Selby Smith were then questioned 
extensively on all these things. At this time another issue 
was also raised . . . that of collaboration between the 
University and the Special Branch of the Police Force. A 
student alleged that during a trial at Oakleigh Court where 
an ex-student was being prosecuted by Administration for 
‘damaging a wall’, the University Legal Officer was seen in 
consultation with an extremely well-known Special Branch 
cop (Bob Larkins\ Matheson became extremely annoyed 
at the implication that the Administration was involved in 
giving information about student rebels to police and 
called on the Legal Officer to refute it. Mr. Stewart (Legal 


132 


Officer) then stood up rather embarrassedly and admitted 
that he had talked to ‘a man known as Bob Larkins’ but 
had not realized at the time that he was talking to a 
Special Branch policeman! 

By this time the whole debate was going rather badly 
for the Administration. An expelled student stood up to 
ask a question but rather unfortunately lost his temper 
and called Matheson ‘a fool’. Grasping desperately at this 
straw, Matheson jumped up from his seat and after 
announcing that he refused to debate further with such 
rude people, stomped off the stage. 

A large proportion of the audience remained after the 
debate and discussed the future of the campaign. Again 
the question of occupying Administration was raised, this 
time with much more support. Admin’s exposure at the 
debate had convinced a whole new batch of students that 
direct, decisive action would have to be taken against the 
authorities. 

The day after the debate was Moratorium day and the 
majority of the university was on strike. It was not until 
Monday that the movement for occupation began to 
build up. 

END OF DIALOGUE 

To the surprise of most students who had expected the 
usual tactical stalling, the expelled students’ letter appeared 
to bear results and Admin announced that the Appeals 
would be held on Thursday, 24th September. Since this 
was now only four days away, it was decided to postpone 
further discussion on the occupation until the results of 
this latest ‘legal channel’ were known. 

The Appeals ended on the same day as they commenced 
but the Council Committee announced that they would 
have to consider the evidence and ‘study the transcript’ 
before a verdict could be announced. This angered radical 
students who now began to realize that Admin’s new 
tactic was to stall on the verdict hoping that students 
would hesitate to occupy with the verdict hanging in the 
balance. However an M.A.S. meeting voted to consider 
direct action if the Appeals results had not been 
announced by Monday, 28th September (three days after 
the close of the Appeals hearing). 


133 









As expected no verdict had been announced by 1.00 
p.m. on 28th, and the M.A.S. meeting called for that day 
voted to occupy Administration indefinitely from Tuesday, 
29th if the Appeals results had still not been announced 
by then or were unfavourable. The tide had turned and the 
fight was now really on. Legal channels were finished with 
as far as M.A.S. was concerned. A broadsheet entitled 
'Occupation Now!’ summed up the situation. 

‘Students are asking themselves in connection with the pro¬ 
posed occupation, “Is it worth it?” “Is it worth disobeying 
the notices banning entry and the edicts opposing our right 
to assemble in what once used to be a University building?” 

“Is it worth risking the possibility of further discipline, 
more expulsions, a harder crackdown?” In our view the 
answer is contained in the question itself. We cannot sit 
back and allow Matheson and Administration to impose 
their law and order through threats ... if we refuse to act 
for fear of being repressed then we have already been 
repressed. If we cannot demonstrate against unjust expulsions 
for fear of more unjust expulsions then what hope is there 
for the future? Acceptance would mean that we can never 
do more than carry pious resolutions at M.A.S. meetings 
while Administration maintains its absolute right to do what 
it likes and expel whom it likes ... an effective mass occupa¬ 
tion will make it difficult for Administration to expel any¬ 
body . . . and more to the point IT WILL MAKE MONASH 
A PLACE IT IS WORTH NOT BEING EXPELLED 
FROM.’ 

The motions passed by the meeting were as follows: 

1. That this student geperal meeting deeply regrets the 

Administration’s failure to announce the result of 
the appeal, against the unjust exclusions. In view of 
the fact that today was the deadline for re-instate¬ 
ment, we can only conclude that the Administration 
had decided to delay the announcing of an 
unpopular decision until exams. 

1.1 ACTION 

We are left with no other channel except direct 
action: therefore we resolve (conditional on at least 
200 students being willing to participate) that the 
Administration building shall be occupied by M.A.S. 

1.2 CONDITIONS OF OCCUPATION 

1.2.1 Facilities for food, sleep, recreation and study will 
be provided by M.A.S. 

1.2.2 Union duplicating facilities shall be made available 


134 


on the same basis as for the Moratorium to produce 
broadsheets for the campaign. 

1.2.3 It shall be an official M.A.S. activity with daily 
general meetings on the steps of Administration to 
determine the nature and length of the occupation. 

1.2.4 It shall be non-violent. The Administration is 
requested to assist this by allowing students to enter 
the building peacefully (if any damage to property 
is necessary to effect entry, the responsibility will 
be with Administration; however the full cost will 
be paid by students). 

1.3 PROTECTION, DISCIPLINE 

1.3.1 In order to prevent further singling out of ‘ring¬ 
leaders’, signed statements of complicity shall be 
collected from as many students as are willing to 
sign. 

1.3.2 Cameras shall be kept away from the building. 

1.4 FURTHER DEADLINE 

1.4.1 We appeal to the University to consider the serious¬ 
ness of the situation they are creating and resolve to 
postpone direct action until an M.A.S. meeting 
tomorrow lunchtime. If the Appeals Committee has 
not taken this last opportunity to re-instate all the 
excluded students, the occupation will take place 
automatically. 

MOTION TWO 

2. That a joint delegation from A.E., P.A.C., and the 
M.A.S. discipline Committee inform Administration 
of today’s decisions and obtain a reply; the rest of 
the meeting shall break up into groups to organize 
for the occupation tomorrow. 

With the passing of the occupation motion a new 
enthusiasm and determination to win was engendered. 

Next day, the right wing got organized. Apparently they 
had been taken by surprise when the occupation motion 
was passed, having been suffering from some sort of 
illusion that the campaign had ‘died out’. Hysterical broad¬ 
sheets carrying the familiar cliches and catchcries — 
‘minorities’, ‘brink of crisis’, ‘violence’, ‘low value of 
degrees’ — were distributed around the campus. In parti¬ 
cular there was one which consisted solely of the following 


135 





words in enormous black letters: THERE WILL BE AN 
OCCUPATION TODAY UNLESS YOU ATTEND 
TODAY’S M.A.S. MEETING . . . YESTERDAY A 
STUDENT GENERAL MEETING DECIDED THAT 
THERE WILL BE AN AUTOMATIC, INDEFINITE, 
OCCUPATION OF THE ADMINISTRATION BUILD¬ 
ING. THIS WILL TAKE PLACE UNLESS YOU 
EXERCISE YOUR DEMOCRATIC RIGHT TO PRE¬ 
VENT THIS. THE OCCUPATION WILL BE CARRIED 
OUT IN THE NAME OF EVERY STUDENT IN THE 
UNIVERSITY. SILENCE IS CONSENT. PREVENT 
VIOLENCE BEFORE IT BEGINS. COME, AND 
BRING YOUR FRIENDS TO TODAY’S M.A.S. 
MEETING IN THE UNION UPSTAIRS FOYER 
COMMENCING 1.05 p.m. IF YOU COP OUT THIS 
TIME YOU WILL NOT GET ANOTHER CHANCE!’ 

These broadsheets did the trick and by 1.10 p.m. there 
was an enormous crowd in the union, many in a 
‘stop-the-Labor-Club-wrecking-the-University’ spirit. It 
was obvious that a large part of the crowd felt hostile 
towards the proposed occupation and believed the right- 
wing propaganda about a ‘small group of extremists’ 
pushing for a ‘confrontation for its own sake’. The expelled 
students therefore put up a proposal that the occupation be 
postponed until Thursday in order to give Admin yet 
another chance to re-instate the students and avoid an 
occupation. This suggestion was well received by the 
meeting and helped convince many students that the 
‘militants’ were not just ‘crazies’ who wanted to rush into 
an occupation without giving Admin a chance. By post¬ 
poning the occupation once again, M.A.S. was demonstrat¬ 
ing that the final decision as to whether or not the occupa¬ 
tion was going on rested with the Administration who 
only had to accede to reasonable and just demands in 
order to avoid the proposed direct action. 

Though this meeting had originated mainly as a right- 
wing mobilization it ended up giving solid backing to an 
occupation scheduled for Thursday (Tuesday’s one being 
postponed). People could almost be ‘seen’ swinging from 
right to left during the course of the meeting. Whereas the 
first motion on the agenda which called on M.A.S. to 


136 


oppose any occupation in principle was only narrowly lost, 
the final motion, calling for an indefinite occupation 
beginning 1.00 p.m. Thursday, was carried overwhelmingly 
with clear support from the block of people which had 
previously voted to condemn all occupations. 

Immediately after this meeting the Professorial Board 
organized a ‘debate’ in the Alexander Theatre (something 
of a last ditch effort to divert students from occupation). 
For three hours the Alexander Theatre was packed, while 
students argued with professors about the proposed occu¬ 
pation, discipline, repression, fascism, the role of the 
University in society, capitalism and imperialism. The 
thing about this forum was its solidity and militancy. 
People were not all ideologically united but there was a 
unity in struggle, a feeling that everyone was now prepared 
to fight to the end. The atmosphere was elating. The firm 
decision to occupy had had a ‘liberating’ effect on people 
as they felt for the first time the effect of their united 
strength. 

OCCUPATION DAY 

Thursday, 1st October was ‘O-Day’. At 9.55 a.m. 
Matheson broadcast to the library and lecture theatres, a 
statement entitled ‘The Limits of Protest’. Throughout 
the morning at regular intervals this speech was replayed 
over the P.A. system in the Union. Students relaxing in 
the upstairs foyer or cafeteria would hear a short crackle 
followed by a distinctly Mathesonian accent apparently 
coming at them from nowhere ‘While no-one wishes to 
silence the dissenting voices, the interruption of the work 
of the University, for example by occupying offices or 
buildings, will be regarded as misconduct and any offenders 
will be prosecuted according to our own disciplinary pro¬ 
cedures or in the public courts . . .’ ‘minority group’ . . . 
‘threats’ ‘serious situation’. . . ‘dissent within limits’. There 
was no escape from J. A. L. Matheson’s interpretation of 
the democratic ‘process’. 

Some broadsheets among the many distributed on 
‘O-Day’ had correctly predicted that Louis Matheson 
would make this type of last minute appeal to students, and 
that it would be seen and heard only on closed circuit 
T.V. with no live student audience to answer to. 


137 










At 1.00 p.m. the Appeals Committee had still not 
announced the result of the hearing and students began 
gathering on the Administration steps in order to begin 
the occupation. The atmosphere was more tense and deter¬ 
mined than at any previous demonstration or sit-in against 
Administration. Students regarded this as the most 
important mass action in the history of Monash. For 
weeks the student body had been approaching this day 
step by step, now the decisive step was about to be taken. 
Side by side with the battle against Administration, a less 
dramatic struggle had been going on within the student 
body itself. Basically this had been between moderates and 
revolutionaries; between those who had felt that Adminis¬ 
tration was ‘reasonable’ and would eventually listen to 
‘logical argument’, and those who believed that Adminis¬ 
tration was firmly on the side of imperialism and reaction 
and so would have to be forced to back down. Now, as 
the campaign ended its fifth week, more and more students 
had come to the realization that Administration had to be 
fought rather than debated with. 

There seems little doubt that the incredible speed with 
which the campaign had matured, the enormous volume 
of work and general activity which had nurtured it, was 
due to the fact that the struggle had not been ‘run from 
the top’ by a small number of student leaders but had 
been firmly in the hands of the rank and file of M.A.S. 
The tremendous resources of initiative, enthusiasm, 
strength and dedication which Monash students possessed, 
had been tapped for the first time. A good working relation¬ 
ship had replaced the ‘Preacher-congregation’ relation 
which had previously dominated political campaigns at 
Monash. Thus the one thousand or so committed students 
themselves took on the job of involving less interested 
students in the struggle. Throughout the campaign so 
far there had been a core of about 500 students actively 
involved in faculty groups, broadsheet groups, M.A.S. 
groups. From these people the campaign radiated out¬ 
wards, gaining momentum as this central group became 
more militant. Twenty-four academic days since the cam¬ 
paign had begun with a mass rally in the Union the first 
occupation was about to begin and the atmosphere was 
electric. Now that ‘O-Day’ had finally arrived, the inten¬ 


138 


sity, determination and enthusiasm of the several thousand 
students who had so far been involved could really be felt, 
and all of them took heart from the sense of comradeship 
in uniting for a common cause. 

After a fairly long rally at which students from La 
Trobe University spoke in support of the Monash students’ 
struggle and other speakers pointed out that the occupation 
could be a real blow against the growth of fascism and 
repression in the community outside as well as at Monash 
itself, an M.A.S. official announced that the occupation 
would begin. 

According to M.A.S. policy, the participation of at 
least 200 students was necessary for the action to be an 
official M.A.S. one, so M.A.S. officials were assigned to 
count the numbers entering the building. As the first line 
of students approached the front doors it was noticed that 
each door had a small notice attached to it which stated 
that the doors were open but any student entering without 
permission would be breaching university discipline. After 
twelve whole months of locked doors, extra security 
guards, special internal walls, Admin had opened its doors 
... for an occupation! 

Any fears that there would not be 200 students prepared 
to stick their necks out by occupying proved unfounded. 
‘Complicity Forms’ were handed out and 320 occupiers 
signed them thus indicating that they were prepared to 
face the discipline committee if it became necessary to 
protect victimized ‘ringleaders’ in this way. Everyone was 
in high spirits and convinced that victory was near. Out¬ 
side, however, it was a different story. 

With at least 500 of the most militant and active students 
safely inside the Administration building, the M.A.S. 
officialdom decided to hold an M.A.S. meeting ‘to decide 
the future of the occupation’ (which was then approxi¬ 
mately 15 minutes old). 

Throughout the whole campaign the M.A.S. student 
bureaucracy had been reluctant to actively co-operate with 
students in implementing official M.A.S. policy. The latest 
obstructionist activity had been the announcement by the 
Chairman, Brian Candler, and other members of the 
Administrative Executive, that they were ‘on strike’ as a 
personal protest against the M.A.S. occupational policy. 


139 






(The most logical thing for them to have done under these 
circumstances would have been to resign.) Thus the 
meeting was chaired by a member of the A.E. who pro¬ 
ceeded to bungle the meeting in a way that was extremely 
unfavourable to the occupiers. 

The whole meeting lasted little longer than 15 minutes. 
During this time not one person was permitted by the 
chairman to speak in favour of the occupation (though 
eight applied to speak). When the vote was taken the 
number of students inside the Administration building was 
not counted though the Chairman claimed that he had 
made an estimate of their numbers added to those voting 
in favour of the occupation. Consequently the official 
result of the meeting was that M.A.S. withdrew support 
from the occupation. 

A broadsheet 4 Facts Speak ' published by the Arts 
Faculty Action Group described the meeting thus: 

THE CONDUCT OF YESTERDAY’S M.A.S. MEETING 

WAS IMPROPER BECAUSE: 

(a) There were speakers against but not for the occupation. 

(b) The way the division was decided was insidious. The 
Chairman attempted to visualize how the 500 would 
look added to the crowd supporting the occupation out¬ 
side, but this was an impossible task (with outsiders 
present and numbers extremely close), the ruling in favour 
of the opposers of the occupation could not be taken as 
valid. 

(c) Since large numbers of the students present are not in 
the habit of attending meetings and could not know all 
the issues involved, it was essential that both sides be 
heard. As the most fervent supporters of student rights in 
this university, and those students most committed to an 
act of conscience in the light of recent heinous events 
were already in the Administration building, this could 
not happen unless the M.A.S. executives (those not on 
strike) supported the democratic right of the occupiers 
to present their case. The Chairman did not concede them 
this right. 

(d) The M.A.S. executive took the deplorable decision to go 
on strike before the occupation and student meeting 
occurred. Hence the meeting was conducted by only one 
executive member . . . what right have these students 
to desert their responsibilities as our elected reps?’ 

A completely dishonest report in the Herald (1st 
October) stated that there were 8000 students at the 
meeting and implied that the occupiers had entered the 


140 


building after the vote against the occupation. Clearly the 
Herald was trying to gain credibility for its thesis of a 
disruptive minority. 

Despite the withdrawal of M.A.S. support the occupation 
went on even though the first hour a heated discussion 
took place about the correct course of action. In the end 
the vast majority of the occupiers decided the matter quite 
firmly by voting that they would not leave the building 
because they felt that it was both morally and tactically 
justified to carry on. The argument against continuing to 
occupy had been that it might split the united front with 
the occupiers becoming irrevocably split from the more 
conservative sections of the university population outside. 
This argument turned out to be completely wrong. 

As soon as it had been decided that the occupation 
should continue, and work-groups had been formed, it was 
agreed that the most important thing to do was to produce 
broadsheets for the rest of the campus, schools, factories 
and railway stations. One was addressed 

To University Staff’: 

‘In discussion over direct action like this occupation of 
Administration, a point which worries us is that the workers 
in Administration will misinterpret our actions. If there is one 
thing we want to get across it is that anything interpreted 
as violence is not directed at the workers, it is directed at 
those who have made this building into a fortress as a way 
of frustrating mass action by students ... we believe that 
we (students and workers) ultimately have a common aim 
... to change this society so that it works for the people 
and not for the big businesses who control this university 
so that it produces specialised workers for their profit, for 
their system. . . . There are a lot of artificial and real 
barriers constructed, not just between students and workers, 
but also between different types of workers. Those in factories 
and those in offices are not the same, it is true . . . but both 
are in the same position of working for a business or an 
Administration which benefits them as little as it can possibly 
get away with. The Monash Administration would like to 
see these barriers maintained for their own saftety ... we 
see the necessity of breaking them down.’ 

As well as broadsheets to campus workers, and to the 
public outside Monash, the usual daily Print, two general 
‘on-campus sheets’, there were leaflets produced by faculty 
groups in Medicine, Economics and Politics, Science and 
Engineering. One important aspect of this occupation was 


141 








the assertion by those occupying that they were running 
the campaign. At general meetings of the occupiers every¬ 
one wanted to speak, put forward ideas and the ‘old guard’ 
activists found themselves swamped by new people, all 
prepared to play a leading role in keeping the struggle 
going. 

A meeting of the occupiers decided on Friday morning 
that the occupation should end at 1.00 p.m. that day with 
a mass rally in the Alexander Theatre. It was also decided 
that a motion to re-occupy should be put before an M.A.S. 
meeting on Tuesday if all the expelled students had not 
been re-admitted by this time. Some students opposed the 
ending of the occupation at this time proposing that it 
should continue all weekend. This argument was defeated 
by pointing out that the struggle should be a protracted 
one using tactics as flexible as possible. Administration 
should never be given the chance to concentrate all its 
forces on a few people and for this reason the guerilla 
tactic of ‘advancing’, ‘attacking’ and then withdrawing 
before the enemy had had a chance to fire back would 
be more effective. 

APPEALS RESULTS 

Late on Monday, 5th October the results of the Appeals 
to Council were announced. The appeals of two students 
were upheld on the grounds of insufficient evidence. This 
evidence was however, enough to convict them initially. 
There had been a slight reduction in the sentences. Three 
of the students who had been excluded for twelve months 
were to have their sentences ‘suspended’ as from the first 
day of the 1971 Academic Year. The four other students, 
one having a 12 month suspended exclusion, one expelled 
for two years and the other two for life, had no change 
made to their sentences. 

THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES . . . 

A big printed broadsheet headed ‘Keep up the Fight ’ 
appeared on Tuesday morning calling on students to 
occupy indefinitely: 

‘Of course there will always be some people who will say 
that it is too late to fight now or that since all channels 
have been exhausted there is no point in bashing our heads 


142 


against a brick wall. Generally these will be the same people 
who said that we should not act until we had been through 
all the channels and that this would not cause undue delay. 
It will be the dishonest people, the Candler’s and the La 
Pirow’s, not the mass of students who did not support 
action earlier because they still believed that “legal methods” 
led somewhere. Nor will there be many students who still 
fear occupation because of the “Violence” and Administra¬ 
tion’s threats of more discipline. Last Thursday’s occupation 
laid these myths to rest and really showed up the weakness 
of Administration when faced with truly mass action. 

Not only students but junior staff (tutors) will be occupy¬ 
ing this time and at least one senior lecturer has announced 
his intention of joining in. Administration is now totally 
isolated at Monash and can undoubtedly be forced to give 
in.’ 

The piecemeal victory of slight reductions in the sen¬ 
tences of three students gave students a brief taste of real 
victory and they were convinced that even these small 
concessions would not have been made without Thursday’s 
occupation, and more importantly, without the continual 
threat of mass rebellion hanging over Administration’s 
head. At an M.A.S. meeting at lunchtime on Tuesday 
(attended by about 3500 students) a motion for indefinite 
re-occupation of the Admin building was carried. This time 
solid support from M.A.S. was definitely behind the 
occupying students. 

About 3000 students went straight from the meeting 
(which had been held outside) to the Administration 
building. As the first students arrived it was observed that 
the steps of the building were packed with professors 
and deans. (Later it was explained by one staff member 
that when it looked as though the occupation motion was 
definitely going to be carried, an announcement had been 
made in the Staff Faculty Club for all good loyal staff 
members to go over to Administration to ‘guard’ it from 
student attack.) 

The Committee of Deans had decided to lock the doors 
of Administration over-ruling a decision of the Professorial 
Board to leave them open. 

For several minutes thousands of students milled 
around. 

In the midst of all this confusion. Dr. Matheson swept 
up the steps, seized a megaphone and said something to 
the effect of ‘I order you to fall back! If this occupation 


143 









continues I will go to the Supreme Court and get an 
injunction against all students participating!’ The crowd 
continued to surge forward and as he left. Dr. Matheson 
retorted ‘Well I’m going to the Supreme Court right now, 
our lawyers have been working on the case all morning.’ 

At that moment there was a crash which sounded 
distinctly like the breaking of glass, and a few minutes 
later a group of students appeared from around the side 
of the building and announced that there was a ‘way in' 
through a side door. Everyone flowed around to the side 
and began entering through a broken door thus avoiding 
any direct confrontation with patriotic senior staff. (This 
broken door was later paid for by a collection taken up 
from the occupiers ... the breaking of the door was 
regarded as ‘no crime at all’.) When a fair number of 
students had entered, the front doors were opened from 
inside, professors gave up their intimidation policy and 
the rest of the students came in through the normal 
entrance. 

The first thing to be discussed by the students inside the 
building was the question of Matheson’s Court Injunction. 
It was explained that an Injunction is a legal order 
restraining certain named persons from doing a particular 
thing, in this case entering the Monash Administration 
building. Breaking such a court order is regarded as ‘con¬ 
tempt of court’ and can lead to an automatic gaol sentence, 
either for a stipulated period of time or until an ‘apology’ 
is made to the court. 

After this had been made clear to everyone, a vote was 
taken to find out how many people would defy such an 
injunction. The vote in favour of outright defiance was 
overwhelming. 

This occupation was far more serious than the first one. 
Not only had the building been broken into in the face 
of a personal ban on entry from Dr. Matheson himself, but 
it could be seen from the Administration’s rather frenzied 
reaction, that the full force of the State (police, courts) com¬ 
bined with Administration discipline could well be brought 
down on each and every student involved. That this did 
not happen, despite the fact that things were moving fast 
in this direction with Dr. Matheson’s departure for the 
Supreme Court, seems directly attributable to the solid 


144 


militancy of the occupying students. The wisest members 
of Administration realized the significance of this, that 
even if the anti-expulsion movement was physically 
crushed by the use of brute State force, this would be a 
hollow victory. Using the courts against a relatively isolated 
minority is one thing, using them against a united and 
determined movement is another. 

Early in the evening, Court injunctions were served on 
several individual students. By some strange co-incidence 
the Administration had had ‘identification trouble’ again 
and had only been able to pick out seven students, six of 
whom ‘turned out’ to be members of the original disciplined 
nine. These first injunctions were interlocutory injunctions 
banning the named students and their ‘agents’ from 
entering Administration until a ‘proper’ court hearing, at 
which Administration would apply for permanent injunc¬ 
tions, could be heard. The interlocutory injunctions were 
ceremonially burned in the Administration building amidst 
cheers from the students. The ‘injuncted’ occupiers con¬ 
tinued to occupy. It was probably at this point that 
Administration ‘observers’ realized that their bluff had 
failed and that going ahead with blatant, undisguised 
repression could well weaken them even more. 

At 8.30 p.m. Dr. Matheson finally agreed to come to 
the ‘negotiating table’ with the occupying students — a 
remarkable admission of defeat. Finally agreement was 
reached: the occupying students would leave the building 
immediately and in return Dr. Matheson would hold a 
referendum of the whole University on the expulsions issue 
and present the result to an emergency Council meeting. 
Matheson gave no guarantee that Council would abide by 
the referendum results. This was a final move. Time was 
the essence for the Administration, for the examinations 
were only two weeks away. The referendum would ‘buy’ 
several precious days, and hopefully the silent majority 
and the pressure of exams would defuse the situation. The 
students had mixed feelings. Some had wanted to force 
the issue by staying in the building until the police were 
inevitably called. But others insisted on leaving, realizing 
that while the promise of the Council meeting could be 
nothing more than a play for time, it would force one 
thing — the Council to show its hand. 


145 








The press reacted with a vehement nation-wide attack 
on the occupation. Obviously syndicated reports appeared 
in all newspapers from the 'West Australian ' to the Bris¬ 
bane ‘Courier Mail ', which carried the heading ‘Fists, 
Bricks Fly in “Battle of Monash”.’ Phrases like ‘violence 
flared', ‘ugly incidents’, ‘students stoned photographers’ 
and ‘an administration official, face bruised and clothing 
torn’ recurred over and over. 

Not even the Administration accused occupiers of the 
sort of ‘ugly incidents’ described in these newspaper 
reports. An enormous M.A.S. meeting several days later 
condemned the papers for their ‘dishonesty’ and threatened 
to take legal action against them. 

Next day. Dr. Matheson called a rheeting of the whole 
University including campus workers, who were given 
time off to come. It was estimated that over 90% of 
people on campus at the time attended this meeting . . . 
it was gigantic. The queue of people .waiting to speak at 
the microphone numbered close to seventy. This meeting 
voted almost unanimously against Dr. Matheson’s pro¬ 
posed voting formula which consisted of only one question: 
‘Should the expelled students be given clemency?’ (This 
would have allowed Council to technically abide by the 
results by only minimally reducing the length of the 
expulsions.) Instead students supported a voting formula 
which involved five alternatives: (1) Should the sentences 
stand? (2) Should they be harsher? (3) Should they be 
reduced while still retaining some exclusions? (4) Should 
there be fines only? (5) Should there have been no punish¬ 
ment all all? 

THE MAJORITY SPEAKS 

The referendum was held the next day, 8th October. 
The ‘ Herald ’ in an editorial (7th October) headed ‘Monash 
Must Speak Now’ said: 

‘The time would now appear to have come . . . when the 
silent majority of the University’s students must speak, or 
forever be at the mercy of a minority band of anarchistic 
agitators . . . utilising the rabble rousing methods of 

anarchistic manipulation the minority prevails, to the detri¬ 
ment of the whole University. The silent majority must show 
them for what they are . . . unrepresentative, self-interested 
trouble-makers.’ 


146 


D.L.P. leader Frank Dowling called for a public enquiry 
into ‘violence racked’ Monash and La Trobe Universities, 
and for the replacement of Dr. Matheson. 

Many broadsheets came out on the day of the refer¬ 
endum:. 

‘Yes, some radicals have stuck their necks out to make a 
point for all of us. We have two choices. We can cut their 
necks off, or we can join them, each in our own way, and 
make a stand for our beliefs. Just remember one thing, the 
world must be in a bad way if it is necessary to expel the 
most sensitive and dedicated people from our universities. 
(Extract from A Final Pica to the Jury , written and produced 
by a post graduate Science student.) 

Other broadsheets predicted that Council would reject 
the results of the referendum altogether. 

‘Reports already received indicate that many Council mem¬ 
bers are furious with Dr. Matheson for accepting the occu¬ 
piers’ demand that a general meeting of the whole university 
be held, followed by an emergency Council meeting. It is 
therefore very much on the cards that Council will reject 
the referendum altogether. 

Already the Chancellor (Sir Douglas Menzies) has indicated 
that he will be against receiving the delegation to be elected 
today (alongside the referendum). Of course Dr. Matheson 
will explain the reason for giving in: he will explain that the 
depth of opposition among both students and staff has gone 
far beyond anything that the administration had ever expected 
to occur so close to the exams, he will point out that every 
possible threat, including discipline, Supreme Court injunc¬ 
tions, locked doors and physical violence has been tried and 
failed to dissuade those students and staff who had decided 
on direct action, he will recommend that Council should 
make a tactical retreat in the face of this overwhelming 
opposition. However, even if Council accepts this we can 
be sure that they will go only as far as they believe university 
opinion has forced them to. If the university does not vote 
overwhelmingly against the current sentences then THE 
SENTENCES WILL STAND because Council will believe 
(wrongly) that it can safely ride out the storm ignoring a 
narrow minority.’ (From the broadsheet Fines.) 

There was a large press coverage of the voting in the 
referendum with reports that it was ‘peaceful’ as if to 
suggest that referenda at Monash are usually accompanied 
by riots. 

The silent majority did speak, but not as an echo of the 
Herald. The results of the referendum were as follows: of 
the total 7620 votes cast, 61% wanted some reduction 
in penalties. Of the 5881 student votes, 67% wanted some 


147 









reduction, 51% wanting fines only, or no penalty at all. 
Of the 1739 staff votes, 51% wanted the penalties to 
stand. 

A delegation of five was elected to make representations 
to Council. When Council met that evening, only one 
member of the delegation was permitted to enter the 
meeting and make a brief statement (after being kept 
waiting outside for several hours). The seven expelled 
students appeared before the Council meeting and read 
out a statement requesting that Council abide by majority 
university opinion and re-iterating their determination to 
keep on struggling against imperialism. All this time 
students were waiting in the Union for the result of the 
Council meeting, most of them expecting victory. As the 
evening drew on, several hundred students drifted over to 
the Administration building to await the announcement. It 
was after midnight when the decision finally came through. 
Students watching through the glass doors of the locked 
and guarded Administration building began to suspect that 
they had been ‘sold out’ when they saw Council members 
coming down the stairs and going out the back door instead 
of the front where they would have had to face the 
students. After all the Council members had left the 
University Public Relations Officer made the Council 
decision public to the waiting students and press-men. 
Council had only passed one motion, and this was: That 
Council will not interfere with the penalties imposed by 
the Appeals Committee.’ Voting was unanimous. Bob 
Hawke, ‘left-winger’, joined with the industrialists, business 
men and academics who comprise the Monash Council 
and spurned majority opinion. 

A statement by the Vice-Chancellor (16th October) 
said, The final decision may not be well-received by all 
members of the University, but it should be accepted as 
the verdict of a body that has to take outside opinion and 
other considerations into account . . .’ 

The broadsheets being distributed around campus the 
next day were furious. One, headed ‘Black Friday’ . . . 
ended: 

1 Thirty Council members spat in the faces of these seven, 
the five man delegation and four thousand six hundred and 
twenty four members of this university. 


148 


It therefore can finally be concluded that at this juncture 
the notions of “democracy ” and of “ justice ” are cries that do 
not belong to the rulers of this university: rather, the “iron 
fist ” and " repression” are the catch cries of our “honourable 
men”.* 

As if to add insult to injury, the university also 
announced its intention of persisting with the injunctions 
on the grounds that the students might ‘re-occupy’. (Smart 
thinking!) The seven students were thus forced to go semi- 
underground in an attempt to avoid being served with 
Court Summonses. Eventually all the summonses were 
served. 

The Herald, which had played such a large part in 
attempting to manipulate outside opinion, was predictably 
quiet on the result of the referendum, and on Council’s 
rejection of it. Instead, it played up a motion of confidence 
in Dr. Matheson which was passed at an M.A.S. meeting 
held the next day. However this ‘motion of confidence’ was 
no more than a reply to Frank Dowling of the D.L.P., who 
had called for the removal of Dr. Matheson, and his 
replacement by an even tougher administrator, perhaps a 
top Public Service or Education Department official. 
Instead of correctly explaining this confidence motion as 
a rejection of the D.L.P., the Herald managed to imply 
that the students all loved their Vice-Chancellor. The 
part of the motion that read, ‘if Dr. Matheson is removed, 
we will immediately consider a general strike of the whole 
university’ was not stressed. 

Other motions passed overwhelmingly at this meeting, 
which was the biggest M.A.S. meeting ever held (5-6000) 
and comprised over 70% of the student body on campus 
that day, were: 

(1) that Council immediately resign, being composed of 
‘incredibly arrogant men; and a group that does not 
correctly represent this university and its interests.’ 

(2) that the injunctions on the seven students be immedi¬ 
ately withdrawn because they were ‘a totally provoca¬ 
tive action designed to intimidate opposition to the 
unjust expulsions and suspensions.’ 

(3) that M.A.S. allocate $420 for the insertion of a half¬ 
page advertisement in the Age. 

(4) that the mass media be condemned for their dishonest 
coverage of the 6th October occupation. 


149 








An occupation motion was also put to this meeting, but 
it was lost. At least 2000 additional students had now 
entered the campaign, and most of these were still doubt¬ 
ful about occupation as a tactic. 

Reports in the papers ignored what the ‘silent majority’ 
at Monash was now saying, and concentrated on the 
‘human stories’, with feature articles on Dr. Matheson, 
Brian Candler (moderate M.A.S. Chairman) and Warren 
Mann (head of the C. & A. Office). There was no mention 
that an enormous meeting of Monash students had con¬ 
demned the press coverage of the occupation. 

In court, on Monday, 12th October, Mr. Justice Pape 
granted the authorities a continuing permanent injunction 
against five students, restraining them from entering the 
Administration building without permission from the Vice- 
Chancellor or his representative. (These injunctions are 
still in force, but have been ignored. Ed.) On the same 
day, an M.A.S. meeting, again very large (4500-5000), 
took a very important decision. A right-wing motion was 
put up stating that ‘there will at no time be an occupation 
of university property without the explicit support of more 
than 50% of the student body.’ This motion was decisively 
defeated. Students saw through it and realized that though 
it appeared to be an ‘extention of democracy’ it was in 
reality at attempt to hamstring M.A.S. and prevent it using 
what was a legitimate tactic in struggle. The defeat of this 
motion was a basic re-affirmation of support for the M.A.S. 
system continuing to operate on the basis that well publi¬ 
cized meeting of all interested students could make deci¬ 
sions. As one speaker said, ‘concerned students should not 
be prevented from taking important and urgent decisions 
just because of the apathy of others, and in any case, if a 
minority did do anything ‘crazy’ then a majority of 
students would soon be down on the lawns voting them 
down.’ 

This meeting also voted overwhelmingly in favour of a 
mass ‘sit-out’ to be held outside the Administration 
building to stop Council members entering, as Council was 
meeting that day. 

Several thousand students gathered outside the Adminis¬ 
tration building only to be told that Council had decided 
not to meet on campus that day. A ‘leak’ from Administra¬ 


150 


tion informed students of the off-campus address where 
the meeting was being held, so a car cavalcade set off to 
find them. When the honourable men were finally dis¬ 
covered at their secret meeting place, their meeting was 
disrupted while students informed them of some M.A.S. 
opinions. An M.A.S. meeting held the next day refused 
to condemn the actions of this small group of students, 
despite right-wing motions to that effect. This however did 
not stop the Herald and the Age from misrepresenting 
what had occurred in headlines reporting ‘800 students 
say sorry’, and ‘we regret it . . . students.’ (13th and 14th 
October.) Perhaps the most bigoted attack occurred on 
13th October, in The Gippsland Times . 

‘It is vicious and utterly wrong that decent Australians 
should be denied the opportunity of university education, 
while malcontents, mostly communistic in their sympathies, 
and many alien in their origin, should be occupying places 
that rightfully should be occupied by Australians.’ (Our 
emphasis . . . Ed.) 

On 13 th October, the campaign was officially closed 
for 1970 and students settled in for examinations. But Dr. 
Matheson was not satisfied. 


151 











152 





Vacation Discipline 


On 23rd November, 1970, notices were sent to thirty-two 
students informing them that they were to be charged for 
participating in the occupations of 1st and 6th October. 
Dr. Matheson claimed that the charges were not laid earlier 
(that is during term) because he did not wish to add to 
students’ worries at the time, perhaps jeopardizing their 
exam results! 

The whole university was aghast at the laying of the 
charges. It appeared to be a provocative attempt to stir 
up trouble. This time Dr. Matheson had personally insti¬ 
tuted the proceedings. The Professorial Board refused to 
endorse his action, and even the reactionary Committee 
of Deans was divided on the question (on ‘tactical’ 
grounds). A number of student and official University 
bodies also opposed the charges. These included the con¬ 
servative Union Board, the Orientation Week Committee, 
the Monash Research Students Association, Staff Socialists, 
The Australian Union of Students and the Melbourne 
University S.R.C. 


153 







In Sound No. 9, Matheson attempted to justify his 
decisions. 

‘The decision was a difficult one and I am conscious of strong 
argument on both sides; I am quite sure that it would not 
have been right simply to drop the matter. It is a pity that 
so much time has gone by since the incidents took place but 
this was inevitable as it did not seem fair to make accusations 
of misconduct against students during the examinations and 
so add to their worries. 

. . . The moral argument that students must somehow 
be brought to a realization that it is wrong to press their 
contentions to the point of violence must surely prevail. 
Unless the whole University comes to agree that there are 
limits beyond which protest must not go, then we shall 
certainly have to live indefinitely in a state of conflict; while 
it is possible to adjust to almost anything, given the fortunate 
resilience of the human spirit, most of us prefer our Uni¬ 
versity to be a place of scholarship not a laboratory for 
experiments in revolutionary politics. 

. . . But my conscience tells me that it is not right that 
those who work in the Offices, and upon whom we rely for 
the effective running of the University’s administrative 
machine, should be subjected to the sort of things that they 
had to put up with last term. 

For me to have taken no action would have been tanta¬ 
mount to my deciding on a wholesale acquittal. And this I 
was not ready to do.’ 

This ‘justification’ did not convince anybody, and for 
the first time ever a student campaign was launched during 
the long vacation. An initial meeting on Tuesday, 1st 
December was held in a lecture theatre and over 200 
students and staff turned up. This meeting called on 
students to withdraw their representatives from committees 
engaged in liaison work with the Administration. Subse¬ 
quently P.A.C. instructed its committee on the Staff- 
Student Assembly not to negotiate with the Vice- 
Chancellor. A meeting of the Committee of Representa¬ 
tives passed a motion calling on student representatives to 
boycott meetings of all university committees other than 
Union committees. A Lot's Wife broadsheet was brought 
out to inform re-enrolling students of the charges, and to 
advertise an official M.A.S. rally called for Tuesday, 15th 
December at 7.00 p.m. 

Meetings of around 100 were held on Tuesday nights 
until Christmas. Ted Bull, Secretary of the Water-side 
Workers’ Federation, came to several of them and he and 


154 


a dozen rank and file wharfies attended the M.A.S. rally 
to demonstrate their solidarity with the Monash struggle. 
Students subsequently spoke at job site meetings on the 
wharves where strike and black ban motions were passed. 
Ted Bull later wrote to Dr. Matheson to convey the views 
of the wharfies; 

‘Dear Sir, 

The trials of Monash students being conducted at the present 
time at Monash University, are causing great consternation 
down at the waterfront. 

The students’ case and what has happened to them so far 
has been outlined to many shipside meetings and canteen 
meetings of the waterside workers, tally clerks, and Harbour 
Trust workers, the vast majority, of course, being waterside 
workers. 

The facts of the case as presented by the students, leads 
one to the inescapable conclusion that justice and democracy 
are not being extended to the students. Resolutions from 
these jobs calling for a 24-hour stopwork in support of these 
students, convey to me the seriousness with which the work¬ 
ers regard these trials. 

The latest unanimous resolutions from the jobs (18 Vic¬ 
toria Dock. 20 Victoria Dock, 22 Victoria Dock, Princes 
Pier and Appleton Dock) have forced me to convey to you 
the feelings of my membership. In three of the resolutions, 
my members have called on me to take this case to the 26 
so-called Rebel Unions, to see what they think about the 
whole situation. 

The officers of this branch have declared full support for the 
students and we hoped that this display of solidarity by citi¬ 
zens outside the University, must show the disciplinary board 
that there is great concern over this issue. 

There is no doubt in the minds of the workers that the 
impartiality of the disciplinary board is suspect. We, as some 
of the people who are paying for the upkeep of the 
University, call on you to terminate the trials, and let the 
students carry on with the studies that they wish to pursue, 
because in the final analysis their ability will be put to the 
beneficial interests of the vast majority of this country. 

Yours faithfully, 

(signed) A. E. Bull, 

Secretary. 23/12/70’ 

Students decided that it was of the utmost importance 
to stall the hearings until first term so that there would 
be students around to fight against a purge. It was therefore 
decided to apply for an adjournment on the reasonable 
grounds that it was difficult to contact witnesses during the 
vacation and most of the accused had jobs which they would 
have to give up if they were required to come to Monash 


155 





each day (the trials would probably last some time!) Other 
students also wanted to challenge the legality of the 
Discipline Statute in the Supreme Court. Many of the 
accused did not hold any hopes that the Courts would 
support them against the Administration and some quite 
strongly opposed the idea at first. Eventually, however, 
unity was reached when those who opposed this legal 
channel agreed that whatever the result, the trials would 
probably be delayed until first term, and the sooner all 
legal channels are actually proved to be useless, the better. 
A Q.C.’s opinion was obtained on the constitutional 
validity of the Statute and the possibility of getting a 
Supreme Court injunction to prevent the hearings con¬ 
tinuing until the Statute had been challenged in the 
Supreme Court. He said the students had a good case for 
an injunction, and a 60% chance of winning the challenge 
to the validity of the Statute. When the Discipline Com¬ 
mittee met, it granted a one week adjournment in order 
to enable students to seek the injunction. 

The writ against the University and the members of the 
Discipline Committee was heard before Mr. Justice 
Gowans in the Practices Court on Friday 11th and Monday 
14th December, and to the students' surprise the Univer¬ 
sity produced a Q.C. of their own. 

In his summation. Justice Gowans ruled that: 

(a) Kearney (C.C.) had shown that there was a serious 
prima facie case, but had not shown to his satisfaction 
that it had a good chance of succeeding in the Supreme 
Court. He did not, as Administration have since inter¬ 
preted this ruling, uphold the validity of the Statute; 
he merely confirmed that a ‘good' case would not be 
good enough for students to win the Supreme Court 
case against the University; 

(b) for the injunction to have been granted, Kearney 
would have to have proven that students would suffer 
irreparable harm if the hearings continued, and this he 
had not done. (Takine advantage of an inadequacy^ 
the affidavits, he ruled that harm was not proven.) 

Thus the injunction was dismissed and costs awarded 
against the students. The legal fight, representing the 
‘proper channels par excellence' was applauded and sup¬ 
ported by many moderate students and staff. Students, 


156 


who had placed their faith in the so-called ‘neutrality of 
the courts’, now realized that they must turn to people, 
not society’s institutions for support in the struggle. 

The hearings resumed at Monash on 15th December and 
the morning was taken up with the trial of one student 
who chose to be tried separately. His case was the only 
one completed and his sentence was a pompous reprimand 
(though not a ‘severe’ one as received by students convicted 
of collecting aid to the N.L.F.). One of the revealing 
aspects of the trial was Matheson’s brief and abortive 
appearance as a witness. He had been called to identify 
some of the students but he forgot who they were! He told 
the committee that he had a note in his office from which 
he would refresh his memory. After a long, confusing, legal 
wrangle about whether the note was ‘admissible evidence' 
the accused asked if they would be able to see it. ‘Of 
course’, said Mr. Williams (the Committee’s Legal 
Adviser). The prosecutor (Mr. Stewart) then immediately 
withdrew Dr. Matheson as a witness. 


THE BACKDOWN 

On 4th January, 1971, Dr. Matheson sent a letter to 
the accused informing them that the hearings were to be 
discontinued: 

‘In reaching this decision I have taken into account the 
protracted nature of the proceedings; the decision reached 
in the case that has been completed; and the expense incurred 
by those who took the proceedings to the Supreme Court. 

But it should not be thought that in acting thus I am 
withdrawing from my view that those students who entered 
the University Offices on October 1st and 6th, contrary to 
my instructions, committed an act of misconduct and that 
those against whom there was a prima facie case were 
correctly brought before the Discipline Committee whose 
authority was upheld by the Supreme Court. (Refer back to 
the Judge's ruling—Ed.). 

Your case if continued, could hardy have been concluded 
before mid-February and I am therefore using the occasion 
of the New Year to discontinue the proceedings so that as 
we begin in 1971, the events of 1970 can be left behimj.' 

In Sound No. 9, he had, in explaining the laying of the 
charges, bluntly dismissed the ‘clean-slate-in-the-new-year’ 
argument, which he said was in the minds of some people, 
‘reinforced by the end of term pre-Christmas euphoria.’ 


157 






In a letter to the Age, (11th January) one of the students 
against whom charges had been dropped pointed out what 
was obviously the main reason for this . . . fear of mass 
student rebellion when first term commenced. ‘With the 
hearings dragging out. Dr. Matheson obviously took fright 
at the possibility of the university community returning in 
first term before the hearings were completed. Both staff 
and students would then have been able to clearly express 
their opinion on the charges.’ 

But Dr. Matheson undoubtedly still faced the new year 
with great trepidation. Would the mass of students agree 
with his statement that ‘as we begin in 1971 the events of 
1970 can be left behind’? 

The answer which he should have understood, was 
contained in the M.A.S. meeting at the end of third term, 
which resolved to suspend the struggle during the period 
of exams and resume it in 1971. 


158 


1971: The Struggle Continues 


1971 was the first time that a student struggle at Monash 
‘carried over’ from one year to the next. With three 
students still expelled at the end of 1970, Supreme Court 
injunctions still in force, and the Monash University Coun¬ 
cil holding ‘secret’ meetings off-campus for fear of student 
reaction to their refusal to abide by the results of the 
referendum, the carry over had been inevitable. 

Many formerly passive students had been radicalized by 
their experiences in 1970. Those newly involved in 
organizing and agitating during third term, now swelled 
the numbers of the activists. But now the movement was 
faced by the many new first year students who knew little 

about what had gone before. And students were diverted 
away from the central struggle by a host of other activities 
which claimed their attention. All sorts of different radical 
projects got under way in the new year. 


159 









The following ‘internal’ Labor Club documents were 
published following the failure of the first M.A.S. meeting 
on the expulsions to even attract a quorum. 

‘I. Labor Club Newsletter 5/4/71 
The Present Situation At Monash 

The present situation at Monash is very good in terms of 
the level of political consciousness among the student body 
as a whole. There is little doubt that a greater political 
awareness and understanding than at the beginning of any 
other year, or at any other time (barring 3rd term 1970) 
does exist at the present time. The question is, how can we 
mobilize the full potential of this situation, how can we give 
correct leadership? 

Lack of Unity and Direction 

In third term last year, there was an underlying unity 
among all progressive students around the minimum demand 
of ‘No Expulsions’. This demand and the resulting unity 
gave the campaign its impetus and its direction. We all knew 
just what we were aiming for in the short term and the 
mass of students were quite clear on this also. The unity 
of the Left soon developed into a united front of all advanced 
students who in turn became a tremendous force in winning 
round a majority of the more “backward” students. The 
underlying strength and motivating force of the whole move¬ 
ment came from the fact that we did have direction and we 
all agreed with that direction. 

This year however that sense of direction has vanished 
and we have therefore been unable to begin to rebuild a 
strong united mass movement around any issue. This is not 
to say that the left is “split” or unable to work as a whole, 
on the contrary it would appear as if most left-wingers have 
a conscious policy of wanting to avoid splits and work 
together. There are more active left-wingers than ever before, 
more faculty groups, more small campaigns, more propa¬ 
ganda, more meetings, however all this activity is scattered 
and tends to be spasmodic and without concern for the 
development of the left wing movement as a whole at 
Monash. The conception of the “United Front” appears to 
have changed from that of unity of the whole left for one 
particular end to one of individual groupings all “doing their 
own thing” without any common aim. 

If we are to rebuild the United Front into a movement 
which is capable of mobilizing and giving leadership to the 
vast mass of Monash students who are already beginning to 
rebel against the status-quo, then we must decide our basis 
of unity, our common demands and our political work in 
all areas must be made to primarily serve these demands. 
Until we do consciously decide on a common campaign to 
which all of us should dedicate our political work then we 
will continue to rush around in a muddle-headed manner, or 
alternatively fall victim to subjectivism and disillusionment. 


160 


and fail to successfully mobilize the majority of students. 
Correct leadership and conscious planning is essential to any 
successful struggle. At the present time we should not be 
blaming the lack of mass struggle on the “apathy” of students, 
but should recognize that the “blame” lies solely with our own 
shortcomings. We all know from past experience that Monash 
students have an “inexhaustible enthusiasm for struggle” 
and that periods of apparent “apathy” have almost always 
been due to subjectivism, liberalism and incorrect leadership 
from the left. 

2. Labor Club Newsletter 

The main reason for continuing last year's struggle is the 
political principle involved. As a left wing movement, do we 
cease to fight against political repression just because we 
are finding it a little difficult at the present time? The left 
as a whole should recognise that the struggle against repres¬ 
sion goes hand in hand with all political struggle and that 
the further our movement advances the more we are going 
to be faced with outright fascist repression. Anyone who is 
attacked by the authorities must be defended to the end, 

Even in pure ‘tactical’ terms however we should recognize: 
that a continuing campaign against the expulsions can achieve 
great success. It is a concrete issue which ALL students 
understand and from which they must inevitably draw con¬ 
clusions as to the nature of the capitalist university ... It 
is also a struggle which we can win and which can tempor¬ 
arily “insure” the movement against further expulsions. At 
the present time Dr. Matheson is hoping against hope that 
we will give up this struggle and continue to concentrate 
our fire away from him, he is definitely ajiaid of the pos¬ 
sibility of further direct action and like Thompson, would 
probably rather give in to our demands than be faced by 
united revolt. (Thompson was the Education Minister forced 
to abandon regulations banning teachers from striking, by 
a general strike of teachers.—Ed.) 

We know that students “feel strongly” about the expul¬ 
sions, the question is, can we transform this “feeling” into 
strong action? In thinking about this we should keep in mind 
that there were several “low” periods in the campaign last 
year (quorum difficulty, etc.) but each time we did overcome 
them by correct and unified leadership. 

For a United Front Against Repression 

In Australia at the moment we are faced with fascist 
repression of progressive forces. This has taken the form 
of the Summary Otfences Act amendments in all states and 
in the Commonwealth, gaolings of draft resisters and anti¬ 
war activists, the gaoling of Norm Gallagher and the 
present imprisonment of five women in Fairlea. There are 
many other examples 

The education system is an important part of capitalist 
society and here too there is wide-spread rebellion. The 
struggles of the teachers, the Prahran Tech, students, and 


161 





students of the three universities are examples of this rebellion. 

We are not involved simply in a struggle against the bosses 
of each institution, who are supposedly isolated from the 
rest of society; we are fighting a system which is threatened 
by our struggle, hence repression is used against us. Repres¬ 
sion can only be defeated by more rebellion and this rebellion 
will be more effective if students can unite with other students 
and unite with the workers and working people. 

Proposals 

1) That a campaign be started in the three universities. 
Tech’s and High Schools including students and teachers, 
against repression of left-wing activity in the education 
system. 

2) That the slogan and demand for this campaign be “no 
exclusions”. 

3) That in the immediate future attention be focussed on 
the new Melbourne University admissions regulation, with 
this being linked to struggles against repression already 
initiated. 

4) That a leaflet be written explaining the nature of the 
campaign, and distributed to all educational institutions, and 

wherever relevant, linking past struggles at particular places 
with the new campaign. 

5) That a Committee composed of a representative from as 
many areas as is workable be established to co-ordinate 
activities and start the campaign going. 

6) That the Monash slogans be: 

1. Reinstate the expelled three 

2. Fight repression 

3. Smash imperialism 

4- Education for the people, not the dollar. 

It is also recommended that comrades keep the thought 
uppermost in all literature speaking etc. that the campaign 
is a united one, and thus activity should be conducted in the 
framework of the total campaign.’ 

After these proposals had been discussed and accepted 
within the left, a ‘Campaign Against Repression' was 
initiated, embracing students of all three Victorian Univer¬ 
sities. 

,, T f le J first joint action proposed was a simultaneous 
blockade of both the Monash and La Trobe Council 
meetings on the afternoon of Monday, 19th April As 
things turned out, the La Trobe blockade had to be post¬ 
poned and only the Monash one went ahead. The La 
Trobe blockade, when it eventually took place, touched 
oil a massive struggle which included several police raids 
on the La Trobe campus, the expulsions of dozens of 


162 


students, the fining of scores, and ultimately the indefinite 
gaoling of three for contempt of court. That struggle is 
still continuing and unfortunately we do not have space 
to include any information about it in this book. It is a 
story which in any case will have to be told by La Trobe 

students themselves.. b , A , 

It was in the course of this joint campaign, that students 
at Melbourne University became ‘awake’ for the first time, 
and a blockade of that University’s Administration building 
took place, followed by the usual pattern of discipline 
trials (and more discipline trials for demonstrating against 
the first ones!). As with La Trobe and Monash, all sen¬ 
tences were announced during the vacation. It is perhaps 
worth mentioning that although there has always been 
strong ideological unity between ‘Maoists’ at Monash and 
La Trobe, there were no organizational links of any kind 
between the left wing movements on any of the three 
campuses. There is still no formal organization in Victoria 
and not even the beginnings of a national one. This is in 
one sense a weakness in the student movement which 
should be corrected. But on the other hand it shows the 
strength of a movement which relies on its base among 
the masses rather than on organization from ‘outside’. It 
contrasts markedly with the paranoiac fears of the Univer¬ 
sity Administrations, whose moves to erect barriers against 
mythical ‘outside agitators’ was precisely what drove the 
students together and resulted in the first joint actions. It 
also contrasts markedly with the D.L.P.-National Civic 
Council’s policy of setting up elaborate ‘front’ organizations 
with outside financing and ‘guidance’ and with the sole aim 
of attacking leftists and seeking to take control of S.R.C.’s. 
Despite all the ‘assistance’ they receive, these groups have 
never got any mass support. 

MEANWHILE BACK ON THE FARM . . . 

Before the Council meeting on 19th April, M.A.S. had 
met to re-affirm its intention, declared at the end of 1971, 
to carry on the struggle against the expulsions until final 
victory. The ‘M.A.S. Discipline Committee’ consisting of 
the expelled students was re-constituted, and its budget of 
$500 extended. Following the resumption of the campaign 
by M.A.S., ‘the three’ had visited Dr. Matheson to ask 


163 






him whether there was any chance of Council changing 
its attitude. They had pointed out that in their estimate 
there was no doubt the campaign would reach heights 
similar to those of the previous year but that for their own 
part they would much rather spend the time and energy 
on more constructive involvement in off-campus protests 
such as the Moratorium. Dr. Matheson took this as a sign 
of weakness and arrogantly announced that Council would 
not even consider their cases unless they made ‘supplica- 
tion\ and ‘I was satisfied that the supplication was genuine’. 
M.A.S. rejected ‘moderate' motions that the three should 
agree to abide by Dr. Matheson’s ‘Limits of Protest’ suppli¬ 
cation and instead voted to place a permanent ban on 
the holding of Council meetings on campus, and to back 
this up by physical obstruction. 

In addition M.A.S. considered the seventeenth draft of 
the Monash Discipline Statute. Having already agreed to 
accept in principle the twelfth draft, students were sur¬ 
prised to find that what they had thought were ‘agreements’ 
dating back to 1968 or 1969 were broken. Not only was 
‘misconduct' still defined widely enough to include almost 
any sort of protest activity, but an ingenious system of 
gerrymandered ‘elections’ to the Discipline Committee had 
been established to give an appearance of ‘participation’ 
while maintaining the reality of Administration control. As 
a last resort, in case of a complete breakdown in Admin’s 
control over Monash, provision was made for a Discipline 
Committee to consist of any five persons appointed by 
Administration. There was also provision for several 
Discipline Committees to sit simultaneously, processing 
‘offenders’ in relay. 

The Discipline Statute Drafting Committee’s reply to 
various objections raised by M.A.S. was the usual list of 
quibbles and the classical comment: 

‘It is in any event a misrepresentation in general to suggest 
that any agreements have been broken by the proposed 
new Statute. 

It has always been made clear that the Drafting Com¬ 
mittee can only agree to make recommendations and that 
the final draft of the Statute must be approved and made 
by Council.' (Sound No. 23, 30th March, 1971.) 

This statement finally destroyed any lingering faith 
students may have had that Administration were ‘reason¬ 


164 




able men’ with whom one could have ‘reasoned discourse’ 
and reach ‘negotiated agreement’. M.A.S. resolved not to 
bother discussing the Discipline Statute with Administra¬ 
tion any further and simply announced that until an 
acceptable Statute was drafted and approved by M.A.S., 
students would take responsibility for their own discipline 
and would take immediate direct action in the event of any 
further use being made of the old Statute or of a new 
Statute being introduced. The Professorial Board replied 
that it would not attempt to meet the M.A.S. objections 
or stick to its original agreements, but ‘Until a new Dis¬ 
cipline Statute has been adopted, the University has no 
option but to retain the existing Discipline Statute’. Thus, 
by this decision, the Professorial Board tried to lay the 
responsibility on M.A.S. for subsequent expulsions by a 
committee of Deans operating under the old statute. 
Instead it meant that the University did not dare use its 
Discipline Statute against students blockading the Council 
from meeting, for fear that this would cause a greater 
reaction. By itself, without mass acceptance. University 
discipline was proved to be a ‘paper tiger’, and it could 
not be used except in conjunction with violent police inter¬ 
vention. Administration met the blockade with a direct 
threat of just such intervention, without bothering with the 
usual preliminaries of disciplinary hearings. Dr. Matheson 
could no longer avoid a display of police power by 
expelling troublesome students before it became necessary. 

The blockade itself was not a particularly exciting event. 
Students erected physical barricades against all but one of 
the entrances to the Administration building and formed 
a physical cordon at the remaining entrance to allow 
Administration staff through while keeping Council 
members out. Foreseeing this, as many Council members 
as possible had endeavoured to sneak into the building 
beforehand. 

beforehand. Among the last to arrive was Bob Hawke of 
the ACTU. When accosted by students he said: ‘You can’t 
treat me like the others, I’m Bob Hawke.’ The students 
replied that they were aware that he was indeed Bob 
Hawke and they were also aware that like all the other 
reactionary Council members he had agreed to ignore the 
referendum result and uphold the expulsions of 1970. They 


165 










■ 


told him he would be allowed to go in if he promised to 
support the re-instatement of the expelled three. He left. 

Where in previous years, Admin had blown up mere 
demonstrations near the Council meeting into major 
‘crises’, their tactics this time were at first, to ignore it. It 
was blandly announced that Council had, after all, been 
able to hold a meeting. Two days later, Sound No. 27 
carried a statement from Dr. Matheson under the title 
‘Council Again Under Duress’. The statement said that 
‘several Council members were roughly handled’ and went 
on to give Dr. Matheson’s usual analysis of student revolt 
in terms of a conspiracy by the left-wing. 

‘Any concession by the University is hailed as a victory 
for direct action, but there is no letting up of the pressure. 
For instance, the disciplinary charges against students who 
invaded the University Offices last October were dropped 
and, in a public statement, I expressed the hope that this 
action would be interpreted as a conciliatory gesture and 
that a new spirit could prevail in 1971. But I might have 
known better: that action is now conveniently forgotten and 
at a general meeting on 19th April this year I am condemned 
“. . . for his apparent seeking to prolong the conflict . . 

On Friday, 24th April, another M.A.S. meeting took 
place, but it concerned a completely different topic, the 
resignation of pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Swan. Swan, 
a ‘liberal’, had been appointed pro-Vice-Chancellor in 
order to assist Dr. Matheson in his onerous responsibilities. 
His main function appeared to be to keep an eye on 
student dissent. During a Monash graduation ceremony, at 
which the Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria was present. 
Swan called on that worthy to speak out against the 
Vietnam war, thus causing him considerable embarrass¬ 
ment. As this had happened at a time when the University 
authorities, and particularly Dr. Matheson, had been 
making loud noises about University neutrality, and about 
how the University as an institution could not be identified 
with any point of view on controversial questions, there 
was a certain amount of criticism of Professor Swan 
amongst his colleagues. Swan offered his resignation to the 
University Council. This immediately caused a great upset, 
especially among moderate and liberal students, who felt 
that at last they had found a spokesman within the ranks 
of senior administrators. Only the Labor Club was rela¬ 


166 


tively unmoved, with Print pointing out that Swan’s state¬ 
ment could be interpreted as pro-war just as much as 
anti-war and asserting that the whole thing would blow 
over with Swan apologizing profusely and Council refusing 
to accept his resignation. Large numbers of students 
turned up to the M.A.S. meating and listened somewhat 
dubiously to Labor Club speakers arguing that the whole 
thing was a put up job so that the University Council could 
publicly re-affirm its committment to ‘University neutrality’ 
and Swan could earn a completely unjustified reputation 
as a ‘radical' and use it to confuse students in future. The 
Labor Club speakers need hardly have bothered . . . they 
were followed immediately by Professor Swan himself, who 
announced that his resignation had been completely volun¬ 
tary and had come about because after making his state¬ 
ments at the graduation ceremony, he had suddenly 
realized what a terrible thing he had done and how utterly 
wrong it was for anyone in a responsible University posi¬ 
tion to say anything which could embarrass the Governor 
of Victoria! He then called for ‘some member of M.A.S.’ 
to move that the meeting immediately close. Nobody did. 
Instead the meeting went on to discuss the hypocrisy of 
Administration in general and Professor Swan in particular, 
attention being particularly focused on the statement that 
the resignation had been ‘completely voluntary’. M.A.S. 
then voted not to support Swan, or take any action if his 
resignation was accepted, but to immediately (and against 
Swan’s expressed wishes) inform Administration of 
M.A.S.’s hostility to any moves against free speech within 
the University, and to any attempt to force Swan or any¬ 
body else to resign for expressing political views, by going 
over to the Administration building ‘en masse■’ to express 
their concern. 

About 150 students went to the Administration building, 
occupied the Council chamber, solemnly delivered a copy 
of the meeting’s resolutions, and equally solemnly left. As 
predicted. Swan’s resignation was not accepted by Council. 

An interesting sidelight was that some of the students 
against whom injunctions had been taken out the previous 
year were sent little notes reminding them that the injunc¬ 
tions were still in force and warning them not to enter the 


167 





Administration building again or to face the consequences 
(‘contempt of court’ proceedings and gaol). One of the 
notes was sent back with a few pointed comments about 
‘paper tigers’. 

ADMIN DROPS ITS BOMBSHELL 

On the Tuesday following the ‘Swansong’, M.A.S. voted 
to step up the pressure on Administration, for the rein¬ 
statement of ‘the three’. The following resolution was 
passed: 

‘That this general meeting of students resolves that a deadline 
of one week be set for the reinstatement of “the three” 
expelled students. Further, this student general meeting 
acknowledges that if the three expelled students are not 
reinstated by the deadline the only alternative will be to 
occupy the University’s Offices.’ 

At the time this resolution was passed, there was not a 
great deal of enthusiasm in the campaign, and there was 
some doubt as to whether it would be possible to act on 
the expiry of the deadline or whether there would have 
to be a further delay until more students had become more 
angry about the expulsions and Administration’s refusal 
to discuss them with M.A.S. Dr. Matheson soon changed 
all that. On 30th April he released the following ‘extract 
from a draft minute of the Professorial Board meeting held 
on 28th April, 1971 (Sound No. 29). 

‘The Vice-Chancellor drew attention to the motion 6 of 
M.A.S. meeting held on 27th April which stated that the 
University Offices would be occupied by students one week 
from that date unless the three suspended students were by 
then reinstated. He also referred to the manner in which 
some Council members were prevented from attending the 
Council Meeting on 19th April with the consequent inter¬ 
ruption to University business. 

The Vice-Chancellor mentioned a report he had received 
concerning the serious risk of injury to persons in the event 
of fire while the entrances to the University Offices were 
barricaded. It was also the Vice-Chancellor’s view that the 
barricading, occupation, and constant threat of occupation 
of the Offices had had a marked effect on the attitudes of 
those working in the building; so much so that he 
doubted whether the university staff working in the building 
would tolerate these conditions much longer. It seemed to 
the Vice-Chancellor that if the building were occupied work 
in the University Offices might cease. He drew attention to 
the fact that though it is often said that the prime function 


168 


of the University is to teach, this function could not be 
carried on for long unless the essential, though ancillary, 
services provided by the staff in the University Offices were 
able to continue. If the present state of affairs were to 
persist we might well be approaching the time when the 
police would have to be called in order to ensure that the 
business of the University could proceed. 

There was lengthy discussion of the issues raised by the 
Vice-Chancellor, particularly with reference to the inter¬ 
ference with the Council Meeting of 19th April and to the 
threatened occupation in the coming week. In the course 
of the discussion the Board noted the statement that an 
attempt would be made to disrupt future Council Meetings 
(M.A.S. meeting, 19th April, Motion 4). 

Following this discussion the Board resolved as follows 
(nem. con.): 

1. That the Professorial Board supports the Vice-Chancellor 
in any measure which he may consider necessary, following 
consultation where possible, to prevent unauthorized entry 
to any University building or to prevent the disruption of 
University business. 

2. The Professorial Board, in expressing its great concern 
at the action of a small group in preventing a full meeting 
of Council on 19th April, 1971, supports the Vice-Chancellor 
in taking any steps which are necessary to enable Council 
to meet unmolested on the main University Campus when 
it pleases. 

The Vice-Chancellor then asked for advice on specific 
questions connected with the next meeting of Council and, 
by a show of hands, the Board agreed (nem. con.): 

1. That the Council Meeting of 10th May, 1971 should be 
held in the Council Room of the University. 

2. That if it should prove necessary the Vice-Chancellor 
should call the police to ensure that Council is able to meet 
undisturbed on 10th May , 1971. 

(Our emphasis — Ed.) 

This last passage was intended to be the ‘throwing down 
of the gauntlet’. The three expelled students were not going 
ta be reinstated (that had been decided the previous 
year). Council was going to meet when and where it 
pleased, and if M.A.S. tried to stop it, the police would be 
called. 10th May, 1971 was to be the day that M.A.S. 
bluff was called. Administration would reassert its 
authority, either peacefully by M.A.S. backing down, or 
forcibly by calling the police. Either way, M.A.S. would 
at last be defeated on 10th May, or so thought Dr. 
Matheson when he announced his threat to call the police 


169 






in the newspapers, with the famous last words ‘I never 
bluff. 

But Dr. Matheson had been bluffing. Just ten days later 
all the expelled students were reinstated. In ten short days 
the University Council was forced to move from total 
immobility to complete capitulation. Moreover they were 
forced, by Dr. Mathesoffis bluster to do so in public. 


HOW IT HAPPENED 

As soon as news of the police threat broke, the Labor 
Club revised its tactics. In view of the danger of M.A.S. 
moderates persuading students to back down in the face of 
the threat, it decided to cut the ground from under the 
moderates, being ‘moderate’ itself. The tactic was fully 
explained in a broadsheet, 'Cops on Campus . . . What is 
to be Done?’, distributed to all students on 4th May. This 
was the first time the Labor Club had really sought to 
involve the mass of students in planning the tactics of a 
campaign and was therefore a qualitatively new develop¬ 
ment. We reprint that broadsheet: 

I' May 4th, 1971 

What is Louis Up To? 

At first sight Dr. Matheson’s action looks INSANE. When 
you look at it more closely you see that it IS insane! In 
view of his previous (correct) statements that calling the 
police would be a disaster (for Admin), it seems certain that 
the move was dictated by people like Bolte and the Council 
members who are completely out of touch. 

Their hope is that as soon as the threat is made an atmo¬ 
sphere of hysterical fear will be set up and M.A.S. induced to 
withdraw its threats of direct action (while ‘of course’ carrying 
militant condemnatory motions). Although some student 
leaders may advocate this (we hope nobody would), it is 
unlikely to happen. If it did, M.A.S. would not only have 
confirmed Admin’s right to maintain the expulsions and defy 
the referendum, it would have rendered itself permanently 
impotent. ANY time Louis and the boys wanted to expel 
someone or do whatever else they damn well please (remem¬ 
ber the ban on N.L.F. Aid? ... off campus discipline and 
double jeopardy? . . . M.U.S.I.C.? etc.), they would know 
in advance that they would WIN. M.A.S. could shout, scream, 
threaten and throw tantrums but then Admin would threaten 
to call the police again and we would capitulate again. It’s 
frightening to think what sort of a (literal) police state, Admin 
would then set up for Bolte at Monash. 

What We Propose 

In fact students are far more likely to react with ANGER 


170 


rather than fear. Louis probably knows this but he hopes 
that in that case we may do something stupid, like immediately 
occupying or smashing up the Admin building and so give 
him more of an excuse to call the cops than if we are merely 
blocking the totally unloved Council from meeting on campus. 
He would then hope to isolate Monash students from the 
general public and the left from Monash students, by a 
general hysteria campaign (violence etc.). 

Our response to this is that Matheson has sadly blundered 
and can be made to fail in his effort to neutralize or isolate 
M.A.S. provided M.A S. adopts firm but flexible tactics. In 
fact we believe that the situation can be turned around so 
that Matheson himself becomes isolated from the general 
public as well as staff and students, and is forced not only 
to drop the threat of police action for the time being but 
to readmit the three. 

This can be done if ALL our energies are totally committed 
to a campaign among students, staff, (to isolate Admin com¬ 
pletely) and outside the University, that brings pressure to 
bear for NO COPS ON CAMPUS and for Admin to 
RE INSTATE THE THREE. 

To make such a campaign overwhelmingly successful we 
should START by offering Admin a reasonable compromise 
over the expelled students, and at the same time postpone 
the occupation scheduled for today. This is necessary because 
Matheson is deliberately trying to force a confrontation by 
his inane statement ‘I never bluff’ (he usually bluffs — 
remember the Supreme Court Injunctions, the threats to pro¬ 
secute for ‘trespass’, the threat to expel everyone involved in 
direct action last year and so on). He hopes that moderates 
and liberals will believe that confrontation is inevitable and 
that therefore some students, most of the staff and all the 
Professorial Board will rally around HIM to save the 
university. 

WE offer a compromise while at the same time making it 
ABSOLUTELY CLEAR that we will continue to block 
Council from meeting while they are trampling on our 
democratic rights AND that if cops are called we will FIGHT 
them then we will have turned the tables. Anyone who 
sincerely wants to avoid a clash and is not merely trying to 
intimidate M.A.S. will see that the best solution is for 
Matheson to accept our compromise offer and unconditionally 
withdraw all threats of police activity now or in the future. 
They will then devote their efforts to pursuading Admin to 
take this way out and the Prof. Board may well reverse its 
decision. If it doesn’t, everyone will KNOW who is REALLY 
trying to cause trouble and all students, most staff and 
perhaps even some Professors will support M.A.S. in resisting 
police attacks. 

THE COMPROMISE 

Apart from postponing the occupation, the compromise we 
propose is as follows: M.A.S. will urge the three expelled 


171 













students to sign undertakings for Council provided Dr. Mathe- 
son agrees to recommend that Council re-admit them with 
suspended sentences. In this case M.A.S. will not block 
Monday’s Council meeting. Furthermore, in the unlikely 
event that Admin is sincere in regarding last year’s referendum 
as inconclusive, M.A.S. is willing to agree to the holding 
of another referendum on the simple question ‘That the 
three students be now re-enrolied with suspended sentences’, 
providing that Council unconditionally agrees in advance to 
abide by the result. It must be clearly understood that M.A.S. 
is not backing down from its original position of opposing 
any disciplinary action out of weakness but solely in brder to 
allow Dr. Matheson to get himself off the hook on which he 
has deliberately hung himself. We will regard the under¬ 
takings as purely a formality and irrespective of accepting 
the suspended sentences will defend the three students from 
any further unjust disciplinary measures on the same basis 
as any other student and just as though they had never been 
disciplined before. If Dr. Matheson or the Professorial Board 
do not accept this compromise or if Council rejects the 
‘insincere’ undertakings, we will revert to our original demand 
in taking direct action in second term and will oppose the 
three students giving even formal undertakings as they like 
the rest of us would by then already be involved in breaking 
them. 


It is clear that Dr. Matheson can accept this compromise 
if he wants to. It is consistent with his statement in Sound 
that he would recommend readmission if the three promised 
not to be violent in future. He could pretend that M.A.S. 
had not called his bluff with the police and that he was 
acting of his own free will. He would be lying but that 
would be nothing new! If Matheson is too pig-headed then 
the Professorial Board can accept it. If not then when Admin 
calls the cops they will be totally isolated and we will be able 
to fight back effectively. 

The compromise does not call on the three to give sincere 
undertakings because Council has no right to them and it 
would be impossible to obtain them. The 3 are not cringing 
crawlers like Professor Swan. For this move to be success¬ 
ful it is essential to convince Dr. Matheson that he will be 
totally isolated if he does reject it and the police ARE called. 
The campaign we propose for this between now and Monday 
is as follows: 

GENERAL LINES OF CAMPAIGN 

1. The M.A S. offices and officers to be fully devoted to the 
campaign, the P R O. in particular to ensure that all students 
and staff are fully informed of today’s decision. 

2. Petitions and resolutions against the use of police and 
in support of M.A.S. policy to be taken round to all lectures 
and tutes. Clubs and Sports Associations. 

3. All official University bodies to be asked to speak out , 


172 


against use of police. Student representatives to be withdrawn 
from any that fail to do so except where authorised by 
P.A.C. or similar reasons. 

4. All staff members to be approached personally and 
urged to call emergency faculty and department meetings 
against the use of police. Official M.A.S. delegations to be 
sent to all Prof. Board ancFCouncil members, Dr. Matheson, 
Bolte, the Police Commissioner and anyone else appropriate. 

5. Meetings of students in each Faculty to be held on 
Thursday to organize holding of discussions on repression 
instead of normal classes on Friday. 

6. Brief advertisement Hand off Monash prepared by 
Discipline Struggle Committee to be inserted in papers. 
Broadsheets in local area, schools. Unis., etc. 

7. Solidarity requested from trade unions, teachers’ organi¬ 
sations, other tertiary institutions, etc. 

The M.A.S. meeting on 4th May went along with the 
proposals in l What is to be Done \ The occupation 
scheduled for that day was postponed and the proposal 
for a ‘compromise’ was adopted as M.A.S. policy. 
Immediately after the meeting students set to work on the 
various aspects of the campaign, mobilizing as many 
students as possible for such activities as lobbying staff 
members, organizing faculty meetings, lecture and tutorial 
meetings and so on. A very important new development 
was that for the first time, students attempted to explain 
their case directly to the general public. Teams were 
organized to hand out leaflets at schools, factories, railway 
stations and shopping centres. In this way, not only did 
students win a considerable amount of outside support, but 
they also learnt that they were not nearly so isolated from 
the general public as the newspapers tried to make out. 

In addition to leaflets, an advertisement was inserted in 
the Herald by M.A.S., as follows: 

HANDS OFF 
M O N A S H ! 

OPPOSE POLICE VIOLENCE, 

AT MONASH, MONDAY! 

Monash students have demanded the readmission of three 
students expelled . last year. The students were involved in 
demonstrations against the University serving U.S. and Aust¬ 
ralian big business instead of the working people of Australia. 

A referendum of the entire staff and student body voted 
overwhelmingly that the penalties should be reduced. The 
University Council voted to leave them unchanged. 

The students have voted to block the University Council 


173 

















from meeting until the Vice-Chancellor agrees to recommend 
readmission of the three in accordance with democratic pro¬ 
cedures. 

The Vice-Chancellor has refused this and instead has 
threatened to call the police. 

In an attempt at compromise the students have undertaken 
not to use force or violence if readmitted. 

The Vice-Chancellor has refused this and Council meeting 
will be blocked Monday. 

IT NOW SEEMS INEVITABLE THAT A VIOLENT 
CLASH WILL TAKE PLACE IF POLICE ARE CALLED 
TO MONASH ON MONDAY. 

DON’T LET DR. MATHESON CLOSE THE UNIVERSITY 
YOUR TAXES PAY FOR. 

SUPPORT THE STUDENTS’ DEMANDS FOR DEMO¬ 
CRATIC RIGHTS AND A UNIVERSITY THAT SERVES 
THE PEOPLE AND NOT BIG BUSINESS. 

OPPOSE POLICE VIOLENCE 

Authorized by the Monash Association of Students Discipline 
Struggle Committee on behalf of the overwhelming majority 
of students who have just voted to oppose police intervention. 
We are publishing this to combat lies and distortions regularly 
published about us in the press.’ 

Apart from the flurry of activity which it promoted, the 
meeting on 4th May was quite interesting in itself. Dr. 
Matheson attended the meeting in person. As a broadsheet 
the next day put it, he ‘invoked the Riot Act, the Parlia¬ 
mentary legality of Council and the threat of police inter¬ 
vention to discourage further student action supporting the 
reinstatement of the expelled students. He also made clear 
his intentions regarding student dissent and the pacification 
of the University.’ 

MANOEUVRINGS 

Following the 4th May meeting, representatives of the 
expelled students went to see Dr. Matheson to discuss the 
possibility of implementing the compromise proposed by 
M.A.S. Here is a report of the meeting from a broadsheet 
Compromise or Confrontation 5th May, 1971: 

‘Matheson provided the following “Draft Undertaking” as the 
minimum he thought Council might be willing to consider . 
“If Council is willing to grant my request and to suspend 
the penalty, I freely and voluntarily undertake that I shall 
not thereafter at any time be directly or indirectly involved 
in the application of force or violence to any person or 
property of the University, or in the obstruction of any person 


•174 



in the performance of his lawful activities or duties within 
the University, or in the obstruction or impeding in any way 
whatsoever of any class, examination, meeting, official cere¬ 
mony or other authorised activity of any kind within the 
University, nor shall I in any way incite or advocate the 
involvement of any other person in any such conduct within 
the University.” 

The bit “I freely and voluntarily undertake” is a real stroke 
of genius when Matheson dictated the text as a pre-condition 
for Hyde not remaining expelled! By including the words 
“incite or advocate” Louis is effectively asking Mike (Hyde) 
to undertake not to speak at M.A.S. meetings or write for 
broadsheets etc. By using the word “thereafter” he is asking 
Mike to admit by implication that he has been using force or 
violence in the past . . . 

The most interesting result of (further questioning) was that 
not only did Matheson say he could not guarantee the out¬ 
come of the Council meeting (which is natural) but also that 
he would not “unequivocably” (his word) say whether or not 
he was recommending that the undertakings be accepted. With 
quite amazing frankness he said that he would not make up 
his own mind on the question until after Council had debated 
it, saying “Please understand that I’d be putting my head on 
the chopping block” in case Council voted against readmission 
after he had recommended in favour of it!’ 

A rather confusing situation had arisen from the M.A.S. 
meeting because although the majority had voted in favour 
of the compromise proposed by the left (signing ‘insincere’ 
statements to give Matheson the opportunity to back down 
from his ‘I never bluff’ police threat), there were many 
who still had doubts. In fact it appeared that students 
didn’t really like the idea of ‘insincere’ statements very 
much and preferred genuine undertakings which would 
merely limit the expelled students to acting only within 
M.A.S. This was exploited by right-wingers who had been 
harping on the theme that ‘all Dr. Matheson is asking is 
a promise not to use violence, if the expelled students 
want to reserve the right to use violence then why should 
we support them? — a cogent argument enough, so long 
as both students and Administration shared a common 
understanding of the meaning of ‘violence’. But there was 
the rub. According to Dr. Matheson it was ‘violent’ to 
‘obstruct or impede’ any ‘lawful activity’. The Careers and 
Appointments Office was a particularly terrible example of 
violence. According to the expelled students ‘violence’ 
meant actual physical injury and not merely ‘obstructing’ 


. 


175 





something. As revolutionaries they believed that the present 
system is based on violence (not in some ‘abstract’ sense 
but in the sense of bombs in Vietnam and policemen’s 
batons here) and that it would therefore have to be over¬ 
thrown with violence. 

However for the moment, in the present context, this 
was not the problem. At no time had the left at Monash 
wanted to use real ‘violence’ within the University. Cer¬ 
tainly they had always made it clear that they would 
defend themselves from any violent attacks, and in parti¬ 
cular that any police attacks would be dealt with in kind. 
But all the sit-ins and other forms of ‘direct action’ at 
Monash, including the Careers and Appointments occupa¬ 
tion for which the three were expelled, had never actually 
been ‘violent’ with any violence being initiated (though not 
necessarily concluded) from the authorities rather than the 
revolutionaries. 

An M.A.S. resolution of 6th May read as follows: 

(a) That this student general meeting urges the three expelled 
students to issue a statement to Council declaring clearly and 
precisely that they will not act in a violent manner, recogniz¬ 
ing that they have not done so in the past, and that they 
were expelled for reasons other than violence. 

(b) Should Dr. Matheson give a personal undertaking to 
convey this statement to Council with a recommendation that 
the three students be re-instated, then Monday’s Council 
meeting will not be blocked. 

(c) Should Dr. Matheson not do this, then M.A.S. will sup¬ 
port and carry out a peaceful blocking of the Council meet¬ 
ing. Should police be called to prevent this, M.A.S. urges all 
its members to resist them as peacefully as possible. 

Thus the expelled students were willing to give under¬ 
takings not to be involved in ‘violence’, while not 
renouncing direct action such as the occupation of the 
Careers and Appointments Office, or any activity sponsored 
by M.A.S. at any time. Accordingly, they wrote a letter 
to the Secretary of the Monash University Council as 
follows: 

‘I request Council to re-consider the penalty of exclusion from 
the University imposed upon me last year by the Discipline 
Committee and confirmed by the Appeal Committee of 
Council. 

At the request of M.A.S. f hereby pledge, both to the 
Administration and to. the student body that if re-admitted 


176 


I shall not in the future be involved in the application of 
force or violence to any person or property of the University. 
In giving this undertaking I wish to point out that I have 
never been engaged in such conduct in the past and more¬ 
over that even the Discipline Committee has not made any 
such finding against me. I give no undertaking to abandon 
the view I hold that the University serves a rotten capitalist 
and imperialist system or to stop taking part in M.A.S. 
meetings or activities.’ 

The phrase ‘both to the Administration and to the 
student body’ was included to distinguish this letter from 
any other ‘undertakings’ which might be signed in accord¬ 
ance with the earlier public statement that the three would 
sign anything at all, in order to provide Dr. Matheson with 
a way out, but would not mean it. By making their pledge 
to the student body, the three indicated that it was one 
they would keep. The phrase ‘I have never been engaged 
in such conduct in the past’ indicates that activities such as 
the Careers and Appointments occupation for which the 
three were originally expelled, would not be considered as 
‘violence’ and that there was no undertaking to refrain 
from them in the future. The reference to ‘taking part in 
M.A.S. meetings and activities’ specifically rebutted Dr. 
Matheson’s demand that the three should refrain from 
‘inciting’ and further indicated that they would be ‘in’ any 
direct action sponsored by M.A.S. 

Although all this made the undertaking completely 
valueless as a means of suppressing student dissent at 
Monash, or giving Administration a moral victory over 
the left, it did provide Dr. Matheson with a way out if 
he wanted to take it. 

In Sound No. 30, he had said ‘if they are serious in 
wanting to persuade Council to readmit them they must 
at least give an undertaking not to engage in violent 
behaviour in future . . .’ and The expelled students have 
been told quite clearly what they should do in order to get 
their case re-considered. They have made no move in this 
direction at all and the conclusion can therefore be drawn 
that it is confrontation that is the aim, not readmission.’ 

Now ‘the three” had given him what he had asked for, a 
formal undertaking not to engage in violent behaviour. Dr. 
Matheson could have accepted this and/or required an 
‘insincere’ undertaking to abide by University discipline 


177 











in all its aspects. Instead he (quite accurately) pointed out 
that the undertakings were ‘virtually a promise that they 
will continue to behave in the future as they have done in 
the past' (Sound No. 31). He also gave the following 
account of his conversation with a deputation of students. 
‘I repeated that I would convey any message from the 
excluded students to Council but again said that 1 would 
not recommend Council to readmit the three; I explained 
that I intended to review the situation as I saw it for 
Council, so that members could make up their own minds 
on the right course of action. In reply to a question whether 
I wanted the three to be re-admitted I answered “no”; did 
anyone seriously expect me to answer “yes”?’ In the same 
issue of Sound (7th.May), Dr. Matheson indicated that 
even if the three had signed the draft letter he had for 
them (‘I freely and voluntarily undertake . . .') then ‘I 
should certainly transmit it, if they signed it, to Council 
but could not recommend that they be re-admitted. My 
reason for this was that the actions of the three this term 
do not persuade me at present that any written statement 
could be relied upon.’ 

Those moderate students who had continued to give 
Administration the benefit of the doubt by accepting its 
assertion that the 1970 referendum was ‘inconclusive’, and 
holding that it would be reasonable that the expelled 
students should sign undertakings that they would not use 
violence, now found that they had no further defence of 
Administration to offer. Not only had there been no move 
to initiate a new referendum, but Matheson had made it 
clear that he was not inclined to accept any undertakings 
from the expelled whatsoever. 

The moderates had no choice now but to follow the 
course provided in the M.A.S. resolution of 6th May—that 
is ‘to carry out a peaceful blocking of the Council Meeting’, 
and ‘should police be called ... to resist them as peacefully 
as possible’. 

Now that virtually the entire student body was united 
against Admin even leading right wing students were 
forced into a position where they had to either go along 
with direct action or be discredited in the same way as 
Dr. Matheson was. A broadsheet entitled Did You Notice 
commented that amongst the flurry of broadsheets 


178 




distributed on Thursday and Friday last week there was 
not one right wing or “moderate” one put out in opposition. 
The reasons for this can be found in NOISE No. 31 
where Dr. Matheson admits everything the left has been 
saying about him.’ 

Attention on both sides now shifted from trying to win 
over sections of the student body to support or oppose the 
expulsions, to trying to win over the academic staff. These 
were now the sole potential base of support for Adminis¬ 
tration. Without that base, the authorities would be forced 
to rely exclusively on the police to maintain control of the 
University; with it the usual functions of the University 
could continue normally, at least. Administration now 
concentrated all its attention on trying to use the staff as 
a counter-weight to the students (who were now recognized 
as a united bloc). On Friday, 7th May, a general meeting 
of the Staff Association was called. The main motion on 
the agenda was one fully backing Administration in the use 
of police against students. It was hoped that the passage 
of this would make students feel isolated and encourage 
them to withdraw. An M.A.S. leaflet to staff explained that 
it would not have this effect at all: 

‘M.A.S. can agree not to block the Council meeting on 
Monday and perhaps send a delegation to it. Unfortunately 
past experience with delegations has not been very happy 
(The “Joint Commission on University Affairs” recommended 
that Council meetings should be open and this recommenda¬ 
tion was first accepted but now rejected) ... it will not solve 
the more general problem of the re-admission of the three or 
of Council being unable to meet at its “own” University, or 
of whether police should be used to intervene in University 
affairs, or of the general state of relations between students 
and Administration. Whatever staff members might like 
M A.S. is not going to allow Council to meet on campus while 
it continues to defy the results of the referendum last year. 
We think you should take the same view because even though 
students and staff took opposite sides in the voting, what is 
at stake now is whether democratic rights should prevail. 
Even if you are not willing to take a stand you will just have 
to accept that we are taking it. For M.A.S. to back down 
now, merely because of the police threat, would not only 
mean allowing Council to pursue its present undemocratic 
course, but would also mean that we had given up permanently 
our right to take direct action on any issue. Dr. Matheson 
would only have to threaten the police and M.A.S. would 
have to accept whatever new expulsions, Statutes or other 


179 






policy he had decided on. The VC and perhaps many staff 
members would like to see M.A.S. give up the policy of 
direct action but the plain fact is that like it or not, we are 
not going to do it. This is not as arrogant as saying “like 
it or not the expulsions stand”—it simply means that we will 
not agree in advance to accept in the future such measures 
as banning N.L.F. Aid. extending discipline to cover off- 
campus activities, excluding students with criminal records 
etc., that have been introduced in the past and would be 
with us today if not for the threat of direct action. Whether 
you agree with this view or not, M.A.S. has already com¬ 
promised as far as it can—both by urging the students to 
give formal undertakings when they are already entitled by 
the referendum to re-admission and by not holding the 
occupation of the Administration building that was scheduled 
for last week (an occupation gives far more excuse for police 
action than merely blocking a meeting that can be held else¬ 
where), so M.A.S. has irrevocably committed itself to block¬ 
ing the Council on Monday. 

... A motion endorsing the call for police intervention 
has been proposed from the clique of reactionary professors 
who usually dominate the Staff Association. No doubt it is 
thought that passage of such a motion will intimidate M.A.S. 
into backing down. It won’t because we are already fully 
committed—what it will do is encourage Dr. Matheson to 
actually call the police on Monday instead of just threatening 
it and thus make a clash inevitable.’ 

At the meeting the staff voted to reject the anti-M.A.S. 
motion and instead resolved that: 

‘While recognizing that situations could arise where the Vice- 
Chancellor would be forced to call the police, this Associa¬ 
tion expresses apprehension about the likely consequences 
of such an action for staff morale and staff-student relations, 
and hopes that every possible effort will be made to deal 
with the present situation by other means . . . and hopes that 
initiatives of this kind (inviting M.A.S. representatives to 
address Council) will make it possible to avoid confrontation 
with the M.A.S.' 

THE CRUNCH COMES 

On the morning of Monday, 10th May, all the various 
forces within the University had lined up for battle. The 
students were solidly united and determined to resist the 
police. An M.A.S. referendum had resulted in an over¬ 
whelming (82%) vote that ‘the presence of police on the 
Monash campus is both undesirable and unwarranted’. The 
staff were generally neutral but inclined against the 
Administration. A number of member of the Staff Socialists 


180 


Group had announced their active support for the M.A.S. 
stand. They played a more important role than their 
numbers because they added to the ‘authority’ of M.A.S. 
and detracted from the ‘authority* of Administration. It 
was revealed in a broadsheet that even Administration was 
split: 

‘It has been reported that the original threat in Empty Vessels 
Make the Most . . . was actually a distortion of the Profes¬ 
sorial Board’s position and that even the reactionary Profes¬ 
sors only resolved that police should be called if Council 
members are being assaulted (which they weren’t last time 
although several tried to assault students). The Board’s 
minutes contain no reference to the motion quoted in Sound 
but do contain a statement that Police should not be called 
merely to disperse a crowd but only in a more serious situa¬ 
tion (Burning the building? Lynching a Councillor?) As La 
Pi row’s Free Speech said, Matheson’s statement should have 
been “1 never bluff SUCCESSFULLY”. 

Nevertheless, at this ‘eleventh hour’, Dr. Matheson’s 
stand was more adamant than ever. He announced in 
Sound No. 32, that: 

‘I have certainly declined to advise Council to readmit the 
three students still excluded since they have been round the 
University all this term inciting other students to violence in 
their support. It is for them to persuade Council that they 
can be trusted to keep the peace in future.’ 

This statement was also released to the daily press 
together with other comments about the ‘inaccurate, mis¬ 
leading and provocative' advertisement placed by M.A.S. 

Something like 4000 students attended the M.A.S. 
meeting at lunchtime and there was an air of considerable 
drama. Nevertheless there was no real debate and the 
motion (adopted overwhelmingly) simply appointed a dele¬ 
gation to inform the Vice-Chancellor: 

‘that if he agrees lo hold another referendum this week on 
the proposition “that the three students still expelled should 
now have their sentences suspended on the same conditions 
as those students whose sentences were suspended last year” 
and to recommend to the University Council that the result 
be implemented, then: 

(i) M.A.S. will accept the result if it turns out to be 
unfavourable: and 

(ii) M.A.S. will not block today’s University Council meeting.’ 

The corollary, that if this was not accepted, M.A.S. 

would block the Council meeting, was so universally 
accepted that it was simply taken for granted. 


181 










Right-wing and D.L.P. motions were not even con¬ 
sidered by the meeting and the moderates were completely 

For the first time M.A.S. resolved on taking direct 
action virtually without any opposition in the face of a 

“?. reat , t0 use the P olice > as well as the (now usual) 
discipline’ and ‘injunctions’! Instead of the usual few 
hundred going to the Administration building to implement 
the decision, on behalf of the less active majority, this 
time the whole meeting acted so that were several thousand 
students gathered on the steps to blockade Council if Dr 
Matheson did not meet their demands. 

It seemed as though students had taken to heart the 
advice contained in a right-wing broadsheet distributed 
earlier under the heading Threat of Violence, MAS 
meeting today: 

If you vote for an occupation as a means of asserting student 
power, then inevitably this will result in greater polarization 
^ W e , n , S ' Uden , tsand . th e Administration. It will also almost 
ir ' v '^ ly result in violence. If you vote for an occupation, 

onna y ° U if Prepared to , talce P art - and to make it work for your 
good? If you vote for an occupation but don’t occupy, are 

£L£ e ? ared t 10 have . lhe Club occupy “on you? 

behalf for their ends? That is, if you are not prepared to 
occupy yourself are you satisfied that the 200-300 who will 

REPUTATION| ad r?p ate a y i / re c?. Sent yOUr demand S? THE 

SoNT LET n BE LOST!' ^ “ AT STAKE 

Anticipating the M.A.S. decision, members of the 
Council had sneaked into the building an hour or so early 
in order to escape student wrath, and the Council meeting 
started while students were gathered outside. The question 
then arose as to whether students should occupy the 
building and or force their way into the meeting room in 
order to prevent the meeting continuing until the Vice- 
Chancellor had agreed to hold the referendum, or whether 
Council should be given the chance to agree to the referen- 
dum at the meeting. Although the M.A.S. decision implied 

TS?!?* Sh « U d bC P revented from meeting at all unless 
Dr. Matheson first agreed to support the student demands, 
he Labor Club proposed to the crowd gathered outside 
hat since they had already managed to get in they should 
be allowed to consider the M.A.S. demands and prevented 


182 


from leaving until they had done so and that if they did 
not reach a satisfactory decision that cvenmg they should 
be chased out of the building and off the campus and 
never allowed to return. This was communicated to the 

Administration. . ._ 

A large part of the crowd drifted off to lectures during 
the afternoon. After having settled in on the steps, guards 
were posted on all exits to the Administration building to 
make sure that no Council members slipped through and 
sentries were sent out to local police stations to find out 
if any concentrations of police were being assembled in 
readiness for an assault on Monash. A report soon came 
back from Oakleigh that there were two busloads of police 
back from Oakleigh that there were four busloads of 
police there together with horses, paddy wagons and a 
mobile canteen(l) This caused intensive preparations to be 
made, from the posting of further sentries and the estab¬ 
lishment of courier and telephone communications to keep 
a watch on police movements, to the stockpiling ot 
ammunition dumps (rocks) and the formation of squads 
of students to initiate combat. The official policy of M.A.S. 
was to resist the police ‘as peacefully as is possible and 
this meant that the bulk of students taking part would con¬ 
fine themselves to sitting down, linking arms, passively 
resisting arrest and so on (at least initially). The referen¬ 
dum on M.A.S. attitudes to police had specifically rejected 
a motion ‘That M.A.S. supports and endorses the use of 
sufficient physical force to prevent the entry onto campus 
of police, and their continued presence, when called by the 
Administration for the purpose of intervening in an ^rnal 
University dispute’. The vote was 865 in favour and 132b 
against. This meant that M.A.S. policy was to resist police 
‘as peacefully as is possible’ but not to try to forcibly 
prevent them merely entering the campus or to try to 
forcibly drive them away. Presumably students would have 
discovered just how ‘peacefully’ the police respond to being 
‘resisted’ and would have then redefined what was pos¬ 
sible’. The Labor Club however, having had experience 
of police violence at demonstrations, had taken a different 
attitude right from the start. Before the referendum was 
held it announced that irrespective of whether M.A.S. as 
a whole voted to resist the police, the Labor Club would 


183 






be resisting them and it was up to the others whether they 
joined in or not. It justified this stand on the basis that if 
the majority voted to fight, the minority would not feel 
obliged to join in that fight and many of the majority would 
leave it to the Labor Club to do the fighting for them, so 
that if the majority voted not to fight, it could not expect 
the minority to follow them in refraining from fighting 
either. When the referendum results were announced and 
Administration spokesmen began making comments about 
how students were ‘bound' not to resist the police, the 
Labor Club simply retorted that the question would not 
arise if Administration was ‘bound’ by the 82% vote 
against calling police, and that if it did arise then there 
would be 1325 students ‘bound’ not to fight them and 865 
taking part in the fight! 

taking part in the fight! The question bluntly posed was 
whether Dr. Matheson was in a position to use police to 
fight nearly 900 students with others ‘resisting peacefully’ 
and possibly joining in. The answer, as events turned out, 
was that he wasn't. 

The Council meeting lasted some 6i hours, from I 
p.m. and, as the afternoon wore on into evening, life for 
the students became cold and boring. On previous occa¬ 
sions, direct action had taken the form of an occupation, 
and there had been an enormous amount of work to do 
running off broadsheets and so on. This time no work 
could be done and students had to content themselves 
with singing, guerilla theatre, and forums held on the 
Administration building steps. Towards evening a bonfire 
was lit to keep warm and there was occasional loud singing 
and chanting of a particularly bloodthirsty character which 
was intended to be heard by the Council ‘deliberating' 
inside. A genuine pig's head, marked ‘Bolte' was obtained 
from the abattoirs and paraded around spiked on the end 
of a pole. Eventually, the idea gained currency, that 
Council was deliberately stalling in the hope that the 
hundreds of students outside would give up and go away 
(actually they weren't — they just couldn't make up their 
minds what the hell to do next!). The M.A.S. delegation 
had gone in fairly early in the piece and had left immedi¬ 
ately after informing the Council of the meeting's resolu¬ 
tion and answering a few silly questions (0. If the expelled 


184 


students signed an undertaking to abide by University 
discipline, could we rely on it? A. If they were placed in 
the same position as before, they would probably act in 
the same way as before.) Since then nothing had been 
heard from the Council, so every so often a ‘deadline’ 
was set and the Administration told that Council had 
better give its answer soon. However, when over- 
enthusiastic elements wanted to break into the Council 
meeting they were dissuaded. The counter argument was 
that if Council refused to give in ‘openly and freely’, then 
support for the left was more likely to be given if they 
showed restraint. If, however, the meeting was interrupted 
before the decision was announced, there would be the 
usual hypocritical assertions that ‘Council was just about 
to agree to compromise when the Labor Club interrupted 
the meeting and spoilt everything’. 

It was not until much later in the evening that the 
Council meeting, after many hours of vacillation, finally 
reached a decision and wound up. The first inkling students 
had that the decision might be a favourable one was when 
sentries reported that the police at Oakleigh station had 
been sent away. Some confusion occurred when the Council 
didn't announce its decision immediately, so that some 
Council members were blocked from leaving; others 
assured ‘wait till you hear the resolution, you won’t be 
unhappy'. Although sceptical, students were persuaded by 
the dispersal of the police, and in spite of their earlier 
resolutions to occupy, to give them the benefit of the 
doubt. Finally the resolution suspending all three expul¬ 
sions ‘forthwith’ upon the three signing (quite meaningless) 
statements, was read out and resulted in tumultuous 
cheering. 

Expelled students were carried back to the Union where 
a general celebration ensued. 


AFTERMATH 

The myth that ‘We cannot negotiate under duress', a 
myth which all authorities from the arbitration court to 
the smallest boss, strive desperately to maintain, was 
finally shattered at Monash when the day came for the 
confrontation. The readmission of the three expelled 


185 






students while hundreds of students were outside the 
building threatening to prevent the Council functioning, 
proved to Monash students that direct action, or the threat 
of it, was the way to obtain justice. Events in the previous 
year, when petitions, appeals, referenda and all the rest 
had failed, had already proved that nothing else would 

suffice, but until direct action had actually succeeded, 

many students doubted that anything could. They 
wondered (as they were intended to), whether perhaps the 
authorities were simply too strong to be moved and 

whether continuing rebellion was just futile. 

By standing up to the threat of police action Monash 
students proved to themselves that the way to meet threats 
of violence was to prepare seriously for counter-violence. 
This too was an important lesson because if the ‘moderates' 
advice had been accepted, and M.A.S. had withdrawn 
under the threat of police, the three students would still 
be expelled, and the threat of police could have been used 
successfully every time there was a dispute between 

students and the Administration. 

The capitulation was front page headlines the next day, 
together with a statement from the acting state secretary 
of the D.L.P. who said it was quite clear the Monash 
Council was not in control of the University: 

‘l think the decision of the Monash Council will be rejected 
by most Victorians as deeply shocking, a cowardly surrender 
to the threat of violence, and useful only in deferring for a 
few weeks the formal control of the Monash University by 
the group who have on this occasion forced council to capitu¬ 
late to them. 

The surrender by the whole of the Council seems to go far 
beyond the surrender of the Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Matheson. 
It seems that it’s unable to exercise the statutory duties and 
the responsibilities that are entrusted to them. The extent of 
the Council's surrender must have staggered even the Monash 
Labor Club. It seems incredible, the whole thing.* 

The 'group' referred to was of course virtually the entire 
student body of Monash. however the D.L.P. was wrong 
in predicting that in a few weeks they would have ‘formal 
control of the University'. Despite the capitulation, Monash 
University is to this day still run by the very same Council 
and Administration. What is more, there have been no 
major 'confrontations' with their authority since they gave 
in on that day. What hqs changed is that ever since May. 


186 


i 


1971, the University authorities have been unable to overtly 
interfere with legitimate political activities on campus 
though they are still trying with such actions as restrictions 
on M.A.S. funds etc. 

The ‘undertaking’ which the three students had to sign 
so that Council’s resolution readmitting them could come 
into effect, was as follows: 

i shall not be directly or indirectly involved in the applica¬ 
tion of force or violence to any person or property of Monash 
University or in the obstruction of any person in the perform¬ 
ance of his lawful activities or duties within the University 
or the obstruction or impeding in any way whatsoever of 
any class, examination, meeting, official ceremony or other 
like activities of any kind within the University.’ 

This was virtually identical with the draft which Dr. 
Matheson had earlier said he would transmit to Council if 
they signed it. There were three changes from the original. 
1. The word ‘thereafter’ was not used so that there was no 
implied admission that the students signing it had been 
using ‘force or violence’ before their expulsion (although 
they had certainly done some of the other things pro¬ 
hibited). 2. The reference to ‘inciting’ and ‘advocating’ 
was completely removed. 3. The words ‘I freely and 
voluntarily undertake’ had been completely removed. 

The most important thing however, was that everyone 
knew that any statement the three signed would be in 
terms of the M.A.S. resolution of 4th May: 

‘We (M.A.S.) will regard the undertaking as purely a 
formality and irrespective of accepting the suspended 
sentences will defend the three students from any further 
unjust disciplinary measures on the same basis as any other 
student and just as though they had never been disciplined 
before. If Dr. Matheson or the Professorial Board do not 
accept this compromise or if Council rejects the “insincere” 
undertakings, we will revert to our original demand in taking 
direct action in second term and will oppose the three students 
giving even formal undertakings as they, like the rest of us, 
would by then already be involved in breaking them.’ 

The only ‘sincere’ statement the three had signed was 
the one which Dr. Matheson had described correctly as 
‘virtually a promise that they will continue to behave in 
the future as they have done in the past’. 

Had Admin acknowledged its ‘mistake’ in upholding 
the expulsions in the previous year in the face of the nega- 


187 


















tive referendum, they could have won back a considerable 
amount of credibility instead of being exposed as ‘paper 
tigers’. 

But this they could not do without lending legitimacy to 
the idea that University policy on major issues of con¬ 
troversy could be decided by referendum and hence 
allowing the students and staff to undermine their control. 
Matheson refused to concede that Administration had 
been defeated by direct action, or to support in any way 
the notion that the University as a whole had a right to 
decide who should or should not be expelled. 

In a typical statement to the press Dr. Matheson 
said that ‘a delegation of five students from the Monash 
Association of Students had agreed to the terms of rein¬ 
statement’ and that M.A.S. had agreed not to use direct 
action in future. He also said the Council decision was ‘an 
act of clemency’. In a letter to the Age (Wednesday, 12th 
May) he said: 

‘Until Monday morning the student position was that Council 
would be prevented from meeting on campus, by force if 
necessary, unless I gave an undertaking that I would 
recommend the readmission of the three expelled students. 

This I refused to do, but I did set out some conditions 
which I thought Council might accept as a basis for consider¬ 
ing readmission, and I undertook to ask Council to hear a 
delegation from M.A.S. I also said with the full authority of 
the professorial board and somewhat lukewarm support from 
the Staff Association, that I might have to call the police in 
certain contingencies. 

Arrangements were made both for the Council to meet on 
Monday and for help to be summoned if necessary. In the 
event there was no attempt to impede the Council and the 
police were not needed. 

At lunch time on Monday a large meeting of students 
voted to ask Council to hold a referendum on the proposition 
that the students be readmitted on the same terms as were 
applied to certain students last year: namely, that the 
exclusions be suspended on pain of good behaviour and that 
they be reimposed if the conditions were not obeyed. 

Since this was virtually identical with the conditions which 
I myself had suggested, but which had previously been rejected 
by two of the three expelled students, it was, I thought, a 
considerable concession by the general body of students.’ (In 
fact, apart from suggesting a further referendum, which 
Council in any case decided was “unnecessary”, the M.A.S. 
position did not change at all on the Monday. Dr. Matheson’s 
previous opinion of this considerable concession by the general 


188 


body of students was “I have certainly declined to advise 
Council to readmit the three students still excluded since they 
have been round the University all this term inciting other 
students to violence in their support. It is for them to 
persuade Council that they can be trusted to keep the peace 
in future”—Ed.) 

‘Council imposed the further condition as agreed by the 
M.A.S. delegation that if there were any breach of the under¬ 
taking by the three students they would at once be excluded 
again. 

The position therefore is that whereas the dispute was 
formerly with the expelled students, a settlement has now 
been effected with M.A.S. if there is any breach of the 
condition leading to a reimposition of the penalty of exclusion 
the M.A.S. is obligated to support the reimposition (Our 
emphasis) 

It was statements like these which prompted members 
of the delegation to write letters to the press (published 
only in the Australian Union of Students paper National U) 
commenting that there had been no question of an ‘agree¬ 
ment’ between the delegation and the Council, since the 
delegation had merely gone there to state M.A.S. policy 
and explain why the Council was under siege, and pointing 
out that M.A.S. policy is decided at student general 
meetings and only at student general meetings and that 
it would be rather unlikely to give up the use of direct 
action when it had proved so highly successful on this 
occasion. Far from being ‘obligated to support the reimpo¬ 
sition’, M.A.S. had already approved a statement that 
‘irrespective of accepting the suspended sentences (M.A.S.) 
will defend the three students from any further unjust 
disciplinary measures on the same basis as any other 
student and just as though they had never been disciplined 
before’. 

The Administration continued to try to save face, not 
only by its various public statements, but also by staging a 
ritual ‘signing of undertakings’ for ‘the three’, in the 
presence of large numbers of solemn looking professors 
and Deans, all mumbling about ‘sincerity’. (Since then, in 
explaining why the Supreme Court injunctions against 
some students were still in force. Dr. Matheson has said 
that he knew the three regarded the undertakings as ‘just 
a piece of paper' and that he wanted the injunctions in 
order to have something over them.) 

With renewed enthusiasm, radical students turned their 
attention to the coming Moratorium and Anti-Apartheid 
campaigns. 

189 






















1971 


The rest of 1971 was qualitatively different to any other 
period at Monash. Conservatives or moderates often spoke 
in superficial terms of the ‘defusing' or ‘quietening’ of 
Monash. Certainly there was a degree of frustration among 
radicals at the lack of mass action in third term, and a 
general confusion as to ‘the way forward’ for the revolu¬ 
tionary movement, but this in no way added up to a 
deradicalization of the mass of Monash students. 

1971 was the first year in which the Administration did 
not launch an offensive against the left wing movement. In 
1967 there was N.L.F. aid and the subsequent disciplining 
of the students and the development of an on-campus 
movement; in 1968 there was ‘discipline for off-campus 
activities’, another clear attack on the radical movement... 
this time on its activities off campus as well; in 1969 ‘17.3’ 
reared its ugly head and again students were forced to fight 
on campus in defence of their movement (the disciplining 
of students in this year made it doubly necessary to con¬ 
centrate all forces on the administration); 1970 brought 


191 




















with it the exclusion of Albert Langer and later the expul¬ 
sion of six students as yet again the administration chose 
the battleground and students had no choice but to fight 
back. 

In 1971 students achieved a clear victory over Admin. 
In other years victories had also been won but the capitula¬ 
tion of the Administration over the question of the expelled 
students was qualitatively different from any other 
Administration defeat. In expelling the students, the 
Administration, and in particular Dr. Matheson had 
initiated a ‘do or die’ battle. One side had to back down, 
one side had to admit defeat. In a very real sense the 
whole anti-expulsions campaign was a power struggle 
between the Administration and the students. The students 
won, quite decisively, and the Administration retired to lick 
its wounds for the rest of the year. 

After May in 1971 the left wing movement at Monash 
was able to function without any interference from the 
authorities. Students who had participated in the illegal 
blockade of Council were not even threatened with 
discipline, there was no action from Admin when Monash 
was openly being used as a base to stop the Springbok 
matches, when Union facilities were taken over for the 
Moratorium and anti-apartheid, when smoke bombs and 
demonstration kits’ were made up and distributed from 
tables in the Union, when students set up a Monash 
People’s Defence Corps and had one training session, when 
$1000 of M.A.S. money was spent on figh^ng the govern¬ 
ment, or when President Nixon’s ‘personal adviser on 
youth’ was driven from the campus. In 1968, 1969 and 
1970, the authorities felt strong enough to introduce 
measures designed to combat this sort of activity; yet in 
1971 they readmitted all expelled students and then 
retired from the scene. 

These events do not mean that students at Monash have 
won any sort of final victorv against the reactionary 
authorities, nor does it mean that "these authorities have 
mvsteriously ‘changed their nature’ and ceased to be 
repressive. 

However the temporary abating of Admin repression in 
1971 caused radical activity to become slightly fragmented 
since there were now no major issues around which the 


192 


movement automatically unified itself. There was a delib¬ 
erate shift of emphasis to off-campus activities by the Labor 
Club, whose members largely involved themselves in local 
groups of the Worker-Student-Alliance, for there was a 
growing awareness and acknowledgement among them of 
the leadership of the working-class in the struggle against 
U.S. imperialism. 

The general student body became deeply involved in 
the Moratorium and the Anti-Apartheid Campaign, both 
essentially off-campus activities. For the first time since 
1966 students were not under attack by the Administration 
and could move off-campus to the real issue — that of 
changing society — though there was some confusion as 
to where to start. The fact that this move occurred gave 
the lie to claims that students are only interested in 
‘wrecking the university’. 

At the" beginning of the year, the Monash left expressed 
its desire for greater unity by setting up ‘United Front' to 
organize a Counter Orientation Week at the beginning of 
first term. It aimed at orientating students to consider the 
real social issues instead of merely pursuing a meal-ticket 
degree. A huge tent was set up in the Forum, and first- 
year students saw films and heard speakers and discussions 
upon Vietnam, Imperialism, Racism, Poverty, Palestine, 
China, the Unions, and Teachers Strikes, as well as folk 
singing and street theatre. 

The" Labor Club began to emphasize more long-term 
planning, and initiated the Monash People’s Militia and the 
Campaign against the Class Bias in Education, both long- 
range, continuing struggles, the latter capable of uniting 
workers and students. The fact that the concept of a 
‘Monash People’s Militia’ could even be raised shows the 
depth of radicalization on campus. Members were also 
engaged in the ‘July Assault on Imperialism’ including the 
Moratorium. They particularly noted the rising tide of 
fascism and oppression shown by the frame-up of Albert 
Langer following the Mayday demonstration. However, 
there was a general decentralization of activity on campus. 
Whilst this encouraged new approaches, it also led to a 
lack of direction in the left. David Dunstan and Rob King, 
not of the orthodox Labor Club line, brought out a ‘totally 
integrated' left-wing Lot's Wife , and later initiated a 


193 









counter-cultural group, the ‘Electrical and Chemical 
Caucus.’ It is interesting to note that counter-cultural move¬ 
ments have never been very strong at Monash, probably 
because of the dominance of political struggle and in 
particular the ‘hard line’ left view that people should fight 
to change society rather than ‘drop out’. The Maoists have 
always held that the drug culture is an expression of 
bourgeois individualism, and is encouraged by the ruling- 
class as a ‘harmless fake rebellion’ which is opposed to 
real political struggle. A Women’s Liberation group 
formed, but encountered considerable difficulties in opera¬ 
tion and concentrated mainly on a publicity and informa¬ 
tion function. The main activity for the students was 
undoubtedly the Halt All Racial Tours (H.A.R.T.) cam¬ 
paign, which was not initiated by the Labor Club. 


194 


Yoetsak Springboks! 


The campaign to disrupt the Springbok Tours of 1971 had 
two important and unique characteristics in the history of 
radical activism at Monash. Firstly, it was the first mass 
movement on racism and. secondly, its orientation was 
totally external. The uniqueness was manifested in the 
composition of its activists, methods of work, propaganda 
and mass appeal. This was a major contributing factor 
towards the enormous enthusiasm generated at Monash in 
the last few days before the Olympic Park match and the 
surprisingly large number of demonstrators from Monash 
(in the range of 1500). 

The Victorian campaign began in late 1970 with the 
formation of H.A.R.T. in October, nipe months before the 
tour. It grew rapidly in those months and culminated in 
victory and such a political upheaval that a federal election 
on the many issues raised was a very real possibility. 

From the beginning there was a determination to succeed 
even though the prospects of developing a massive and 
militant movement half way through the next year seemed 


195 














rather forbidding. At the initial meetings, sometimes 
attended by only half a dozen largely inexperienced 
activists, there was often a feeling of not knowing what to 
do. There was one intention — to stop the tours. Con¬ 
fidence was gained by the knowledge that support could 
be gained. Monash H.A.R.T. was set up partly as a 
reaction to the strong liberal A.L.P.-type influence in the 
Victorian movement which at the beginning was opposed 
to the physical disruption of matches. In time the liberals 
recognized or accepted the need for physical disruption 
although later their pressure was to reappear. 

After numerous meetings in early 1971 a general 
meeting of Victorian H.A.R.T. was called. Apart from 
the discussion on methods of work, allocation of the work 
load and general organization, a serious argument ensued 
which was to prove the last ideological conflict in the move¬ 
ment. The question was whether to level propaganda 
attacks primarily at the racist aspects of sport alone or on 
Apartheid as a whole, with racist sport being seen as that 
particular manifestation of Apartheid most vulnerable at 
that stage. A sharp division occurred between radicals and 
liberals. Liberals maintained that more people would 
become immediately involved on the single, simple issue 
while the radicals argued that the system of Apartheid, 
not the narrow issue of racism in sport, was the principal 
factor and that propaganda must be presented along those 
lines. The radicals saw the disruption of the tours as a 
means to attack Apartheid and not as an end in itself as 
implied by the liberals. Liberalism sought to confine and 
restrict the movement to the institutions of overt and 
immediately relevant racism, attacking the results of 
racism but hesitating attacking the cause. The radical view¬ 
point eventually prevailed, particularly after concise and 
constructive argument from members of the Waterside 
Workers’ Federation. 

y *** * 

Although there had been a campaign at Monash to 
raise money for African freedom fighters in 1969, it was 
obviously necessary to inform students about all facets 
of the Apartheid issue as well as organizing action against 
the tour. So H.A.R.T.’s broadsheet ‘Blood Sport' was 
started in first term with this in mind. 


196 


The campaign was developing steadily. The South 
African women’s tennis team played matches in Melbourne 
in late December, 1970. They were met by hostile demon¬ 
strations. After a protester burst onto the field and 
thoroughly disrupted the match by crashing through the 
net, they were forced to play on remote courts under false 
names. The racist republic’s flag was wrenched down. 

The visit of the all-white South African surf life-saving 
team in late January gave a great fillip to student involve¬ 
ment at Monash. The team arrived to a noisy protest at 
Essendon Airport, and a small group travelled 200 miles 
to brave jeering crowds when they competed at Lome. 
Despite the fact that the South Africans rammed their surf 
boat (donated by BP) through the demonstrators’ ranks — 
knocking over several of them — the only arrests were of 
three students. These protests brought home the import¬ 
ance of wrecking the proposed Springbok rugby tour. 

Bishop Crowther (the deported Bishop of Kimberley and 
Kuruman in South Africa) spoke to an avidly interested 
meeting at the University in April. 

In the week before the Springbok team left South Africa,, 
maybe partly due to press coverage and the threatened 
union blackban (not to mention insanely pro-South African ! 
mumblings from Mr. McMahon and the Australian Rugby 
Union) enthusiasm and even excitement began to mount. I 
H.A.R.T. meetings brought out dozens of people who 
were prepared to go to any lengths to stop the Springbok 1 

match. .... 

With the team’s arrival in Perth and its relatively 
friendly welcome there, things assumed greater reality — 
what would happen on 3rd July? What happened in Perth 
would not be allowed to happen here. 

During the last week the Monash Association of 
Students set up a joint Moratorium/Anti-Apartheid 
‘centre’ in a part of the Union building. Open twenty-four 
hours a day, it contained two Gestetners, typewriters and 
plenty of tables and floor space for the poster-makers 
and writers to work in. Relays went out with posters and 
propaganda to all parts of the campus and outside as well. 

With the arrival of the Springboks in Melbourne the 
place began to assume the air of Division 4. Constant 
touch was kept with the A.U.S. headquarters, which 


197 















acted as a twenty-four hour co-ordination centre. The 
first mission despatched two carloads of students to ‘cover' 
Mangalore Airport in case the Springboks in their five 
light planes tried to touch down there and sneak into 
the city. From then on ‘hot tips’ on the team’s where¬ 
abouts came in thick and fast, especially from keen scouts 
seeing something unusual here or there. The unfortunate 
Afrikaaners were tracked down to one or two receptions, 
and the hush-hush accommodation of some of them was 
uncovered (at least one was staying with a Monash rugby 
player). A motel was stoned, and those who could be 
discovered were kept awake at night. 

On the last day before the match there was frantic 
activity in the ‘centre’, mainly by inventive students testing 
out various devices of disruption which they were sure 
would stop the match. Besides the bizarre brain children 
of eccentric innovators, these included smoke bombs, 
marine flares and stink capsules. The ‘demonstrators’ kits 
soon sold out. Buses were organized and everything pre¬ 
pared for the important afternoon. 

POST-MORTEM 

Much has been said about the violence on 3rd July 
and no more will be said here. On Monday after the match 
an appeal was made by H.A.R.T. for eye witnesses’ 
accounts to be published in Lot's Wife. Reports flowed 
in rapidly and within four hours, seventy had been 
received. The message was clear — for three and a half 
hours demonstrators were subjected to the most sustained 
and intense State violence ever known in Melbourne. 

H.A.R.T. had discussed at some length the possibility 
of violence before the match and had reached a vague 
conclusion that, in view of the wide media coverage 
expected, police violence would be restrained. If H.A.R.T. 
made any serious mistakes it was this underestimation of 
the lengths that the State will go to, to attack any perceived 
threat to its authority. An adverse press reaction to police 
violence must have been anticipated by the State authori¬ 
ties, so their intention could only have been to smash any 
demonstration regardless of press reaction. In fact the 
adverse reaction by the press rapidly faded under pressure 
from the usual conservative forces. Two lessons were 


198 


driven straight home. Firstly, but for lapses of short dura¬ 
tion the media is against protest movements, and secondly, 
protest that poses a threat to authority, irrespective of the 
reasons for protest, will incur violence of sufficient inten¬ 
sity, in the minds of the authorities, to crush the dissent. 

The protesters did not define the conditions under 
which they were to work. State authority did that. Pro¬ 
testers, given the conditions and determined to pay more 
than lip service in the attack on racism, responded in the 
only effective way possible to terminate the racist sporting 
tours. The demonstration was the first in Melbourne which, 
by its objective situation, was confrontatory in nature. It 
had to be. The State knew this, and used it to demonstrate 
that their order was not to be disturbed. 

This demonstration proved something of an eye-opener 
to those active in H.A.R.T. and had a similar effect on 
wide sections of students at Monash. Many, who for the 
first time recognized the police as agents of the State, 
moved sharply to the left, as a result of their experience 
and the debate which followed. 

Many students who marched on 4th July would pre¬ 
viously never have associated with such a radical demon¬ 
stration. Students showed their disgust for the violent 
tactics of the State and the police force when they voted 
to supply two M. A.S. paid buses to transport demonstrators 
to Sydney, for the Springbok matches there. 

The H.A.R.T. campaign and the demonstration on 3rd 
July involved many students who had never demonstrated 
before, let alone worked in the preceding political cam¬ 
paign. In many ways H.A.R.T. was rather a naive move¬ 
ment but the willingness of large numbers of students to 
help and the enormous enthusiasm compensated for its 
activists’ lack of experience. 

The wide range of students active in Monash H.A.R.T. 
and the complete lack of any ideological argument led to 
a unique method of work. For four months a steady 
supply of light, easily read leaflets were distributed, a 
solid visual barrage of posters was maintained, an occa¬ 
sional M.A.S. meeting was held and frequent H.A.R.T 
meetings took place. These four months were mostly 
unspectacular mainly because manpower and resources 
were limited, yet a few weeks before the Springboks 


199 



















arrived H.A.R.T. had a definite presence at Monash. Its 
line was direct, simple, never-changing; Apartheid must be 
attacked, the Springbok Tours must be stopped, and 
economic links with South Africa must be challenged. The 
immediate and real goal, the consistency and cool deter¬ 
mination over a period, resulted in the rapid escalation in 
support immediately prior to the match. 

The organizational structure of H.A.R.T. could hardly 
have been looser. In fact it never formally existed. Many 
Monash officials have still not heard of it. Meetings were 
completely informal, motions never put and decisions were 
arrived at by concensus. The lack of ideological conflict 
was such that once a decision was reached it was acceptable 
to all and was never changed. Actions during the cam¬ 
paign invariably co-ordinated, not because of organization 
but rather the firm agreement that comes from concensus 
decision-making. 

WE’RE ONLY BEGINNING ... 

Monash H.A.R.T. insisted throughout the campaign that 
the anti-Apartheid movement would continue on to attack 
economic links with South Africa, and that the campaign 
to disrupt the tours was only the beginning. Political and 
economic leaders in South Africa are well aware of these 
ongoing intentions of Springbok disrupters, and it was this 
that largely caused the hysterical reaction from the South 
African authorities both before and after the Rugby tour, 
and had a divisive effect on the South African ruling 
classes. 

After the Springboks had left Australia H.A.R.T. held 
a series of meetings to discuss future tactics, hoping at the 
time that a cricket tour was out of the question. This 
assumption turned out to be correct, but it was by no 
means certain in early October when the prospect of a 
cricket tour being used to set the stage for a ‘law and 
order’ election was very real. Students and Unions were 
./ to be the villains, a threat to democracy and freedom. 
H.A.R.T. again badly underestimated the ruthlessness of 
the State, because the sort of protection needed to enable 
j a cricket match to proceed in peace is frightening. It 
seemed that Cabinet was split, and with no decisive assur¬ 
ances of support, the Cricket Board of Control had no 


200 


choice but to cancel the tour. Although alarmed at the 
possibility of a new South African tour, the ideas of the 
activists developed steadily and crystallized into the con¬ 
cept of a broad-based activist Anti-Racist Movement 
(A.R.M.). Its main purpose was to unite activists working 
against all facets of racism so that much more ambitious ; 
programmes could be tackled and hopefully in time a single \ 
campaign relevant to South African, Australian and \ 
Niuginian racism would be taken up. 

Monash A.R.M. put a series of proposals to the Action 
Conference on Racism and Education in Brisbane in 
January, 1972. At the time of writing embryonic groups 
are springing up throughout Australia. 

Although liberalism had some force in Victorian 
H.A.R.T. until March, 1971 it never had any authority 
in Monash H.A.R.T. which from the beginning exerted 
a disproportionate amount of influence over the Victorian 
group. That this was the case is most likely accounted for 
by the deep-seated radicalism at Monash and the decisive 
approach characteristic of its radical activism. In retro¬ 
spect it is apparent that the unyielding pressure on 
liberalism was vitally necessary. The prevailing radical 
ideology prevented petty and indecisive quibbling about 
the rights and wrongs of physical disruption, and further¬ 
more the formation of A.R.M. was a natural and con¬ 
tinuous development of a radically orientated H.A.R.T. 

After the experiences of 1971, A.R.M. is not likely to 
repeat the major mistake of H.A.R.T. — the under¬ 
estimation of the ever-ready violence of the State. It is 
an important lesson, for it demonstrated a little more 
about the nature of the State in which and on which the 
emergent A.R.M. is to operate. 



201 




















4th July, 1971 

and the Monash People’s Militia 


On Demonstrations 

‘Idiotic Vandals’ (Ex Attorney-General Hughes) 

‘Nuts’ (Gorton) 

‘Pack-raping bikies’ (Snedden) 

‘Rabble’ (Bolte) 

‘Bastards’ (Askin) 

‘Bums’ (Nixon) 

On Law and Order 

‘The streets of our country are in turmoil, the universities 
are filled with students rioting and rebelling; communists are 
seeking to destroy our country ... we need law and order 
. . . yes . . . without law and order the republic will fall. 

• Elect us and we shall restore law and order.’ Adolf Hitler, 
Hamburg, 1932. 

The 4th July demonstration was held the day after the 
anti-apartheid demonstration and thus the struggle against 


203 










racism and apartheid was still on everyone's mind. As 
usual the march had advertised its destination as the U.S. 
I Consulate so the cops had formed a barricade of about 
\ 500 men to protect the consulate. The significance of the 
V fact that the South African Trade Commission was half a 
/ mile past the consulate and unguarded had not entered 
( their heads. As the march approached the consulate the 
\ police gripped their batons, manned their barricades and 
) prepared for a thoroughly enjoyable massacre (the march 
was small, about 1000). Then a strange thing happened; 
instead of trying to get through the cop lines and having 
a direct confrontation with the police, the leadership of 
the march organized everyone to keep right on marching 
past the consulate. ‘Well that’s it,’ thought the cops, ‘the 
cowards are too scared to take us on, their whole demo’s 
1 a flop.’ The police line broke up, batons were put away 
\and only a few foot police and a car or two followed the 
march. About five minutes later, a roar went up and 
voices started yelling \ . . there’s the South African Trade 
Commission.' The whole demonstration stormed across the 
road and smashed a number of windows in the place. Then 
, the leadership called for a quick dispersal to avoid cop 
retaliation. Unfortunately dispersal was not quick enough 
/ and there were a few arrests and injuries, but far fewer 
L than if the crowd had tried to reach the consulate. 

Coming straight after the Olympic Park demonstration, 
it proved an excellent example of how people can organize 
and fight. 

After the anti-apartheid demonstrations there was a 
great deal of discussion on campus about ‘police brutality’. 
Most students were shocked and angered by the police 
violence at Olympic Park but there were few ideas about 
what could be done to prevent demonstrators from being 
attacked, or to stop the growing tide of State repression 
aimed at crushing militant demonstrations. The general 
attitude among students during the first few days after 
the Melbourne Springbok demonstration was one of 
shocked disbelief. (This was the first time that really large 
numbers of Monash students had personally experienced 
a police attack.) Broadsheets, speeches, posters, ‘lamented’, 

| ‘deplored’, ‘exposed’ what had happened rather than 
\ analyzed just why it had happened and what could be 


204 


done about it. The whole furore had begun to die down 
without any conclusion being reached when the Labor 
Club put forward its concrete plan of action, the 'Monash 
People's Militia \ 

A leaflet called 'Organize and Eight 9 was distributed to 
explain the proposal: 

The daily newspapers have excused the police attacks as 
“over reaction” due to provocation from a “violent minority 
(i.e. “do not be militant and you won’t get your heads smashed 
in”). Unfortunately this reactionary propaganda has had 
some effect. This can be seen from the fact that people at a 
recent M.A.S. meeting opposed the idea of conscious training 
in self-defence, street fighting tactics etc., on the grounds that 
“it would just make the police more violent”. In reality this 
attitude is little different from that of the mass media which 
deplored the police attack but hoped that demonstrators had 
learned the lesson that demonstrations must be as quiet, passive 
and unnoticed as possible. The logical extension of the argu¬ 
ment that we mustn’t organize and fight is that we mustn’t 
demonstrate. Bolte’s thugs are quite clearly trying to get the 
public quite used to the idea that protests should be smashed 
and it won’t be long before the cops are ready to hoe into 
any demo. There are three alternatives. 1. Don’t demonstrate 
or do so innocuously so that no-one notices. 2. Continue as 
we are now . . . i.e. disorganized, inexperienced, untrained 
and get hundreds more arrests, injuries and defeats. 3. Consci¬ 
ously train in the “art” of demonstrating from tactics (vital) 
to efficient self-defence and offence and begin to lay the basis 
for a People’s Army to be used in the inevitable struggle 
against facism in Australia. 

‘If you view the police attacks in Melbourne, Adelaide, 
Sydney, the State of Emergency in Brisbane, the police 
invasion of La Trobe University ... the police attack on 
Mayday, the physical smashing up of La Trobe anti-imperialist 
marches last year, the gaoling of large numbers of demonstra¬ 
tors, the frame-up of Albert Langer and consequent exposure 
of cop spying and intelligence tactics at demonstrations, the 
fact that Cass Young of the Nazi Party was openly assisting 
police to arrest and bash demonstrators at Olympic Park, etc., 
etc. ad nauseum, as all cases of “over reaction” or minor mal¬ 
functions of the system, then you won’t be worried. If, how¬ 
ever you can see a pattern in all this, a pattern amounting to 
a concerted attempt to cower people into being too afraid 
to demonstrate, you’ll probably be wondering what we can do 
about it. Our answer is to FIGHT, and to FIGHT NOW.’ 

A Public Affairs Committee Forum (attended by about 
250 students) endorsed the general line of this leaflet by 
recommending to P.A.C. that it immediately set up a 
‘Monash People’s Defence Corps’ to enable students to 


205 





















train in self-defence measures, and that it call an M.A.S. 
meeting to consider a proposal to set up a ‘para-military, 
semi-clandestine, Monash People’s Militia’ to train in street 
fighting, tactics and military theory, to protect the campus 
from police invasion and to unite with off-campus struggles 
against the State. 

Not unexpectedly these proposals caused an immediate 
reaction. A raging debate was soon underway and of 
course the newspapers took it up under such headings as 
‘Call to Arms at Monash’. The dividing line between the 
people wanting to ‘organize and fight’ and those opposing 
these ideas as ‘unreal’, ‘fantasies’, ‘adventurist’ was the 
question of the extent of fascism in Australia. 

Those who still believed that while much was wrong 
with Australian society we could still fight for change 
and achieve it within the present social system, and that 
the rulers would not resort to fascist measures if their 
powers were successfully challenged, opposed the pro¬ 
posals for both the ‘defence corps’ and the ‘militia’ as just 
the lunatic ravings of a few ‘crazies’. Others like the Student 
Christian Movement/Newman Society broadsheet said it 
would ‘provoke the authorities’: 

‘The concept of a Monash People’s Militia sounds as if it is 
realistic when considered in the wake of the brutal police 
action at Olympic Park. However, there are two basic reasons 
why I would urge you to vote against this motion: 

1. The name and concept of a “People’s Army” or “People’s 
Militia” is basically a romanticization of the real political 
situation. Fascist is rapidly becoming more and more appro¬ 
priate to describe certain aspects of government policy; how¬ 
ever to form (or support the formation of) a Monash Militia is 
to encourage the growth of fascism. It is useless to seek direct 
power confrontations if you have no chance of winning, and 
any action which can feed the law-and-order line is to be 
avoided. 

2. The setting up of a “People’s Militia” in Australia is a 
trivialization of the whole concept of a People’s Army . . . 
to set up a People’s Militia here would be to infer that our 
situation here is the same as that in the Southern African 
States, as in Bangladesh, or in Vietnam, as in Brazil. Not 
only would it destroy the developing sense of internationaliza¬ 
tion in Australia, it would be an insult to those involved in 
real struggles for liberation.’— Would You Believe. 

Those who saw an irreconcilable contradiction between 
the rulers and the majority of the Australian population, 
which would come to a head with the ordinary people 


206 


standing up and challenging the power of the rulers and 
the rulers replying with the full force of the State machine 
to keep the people down (just as in Indo-China, South 
Africa, Rhodesia, Ireland), supported the proposals and 
wanted to ‘get prepared’ for the fight ahead. 

The first training session of The Monash People’s 
Defence Corps took place on a Wednesday afternoon. 
Feeling slightly self-conscious the participants made their 
way to a deserted oval near the sports centre where they 
were given instruction (from other students) on how to 
defend themselves from a police baton attack. The session 
was relatively short. It was envisaged that future training 
would involve not only physical defence, but summing up 
of recent experiences at demonstrations and discussion of 
tactics such as how to outwit the police by making use of 
their weaknesses. 

At a meeting of interested people the 4th July demon¬ 
stration was discussed. This demonstration was of par¬ 
ticular importance because its success was a concrete 
example of how a well-organized tightly-knit demonstra¬ 
tion can achieve its objective with a minimum of arrests 
and injury to demonstrators. 

On Thursday, 29th July, a M.A.S. meeting was held on 
the question of ‘Violence and the Monash People’s Militia’. 
This meeting voted to put the whole thing to a referendum 
which the Labor Club opposed on the grounds that it 
enabled people to vote without taking the trouble to hear 
the debate. 

As expected, both the proposals for classes in ‘Topics of 
Interest to Demonstrators’ (basically the Defence Corps 
proposal) and the proposal for a militia were overwhelm¬ 
ingly defeated in the referendum, though a motion calling 
for a P.A.C. booklet giving advice to demonstrators was 
carried. The Labor Club was not depressed, as it felt that 
it was essential to raise the question of the onset of fascism 
and the need to organize and fight at that particular time. 
The discussion that followed was of value, and Labor Club 
leaders pointed to the fact that, in the referendum, there 
were over 500 students in favour of an M.A.S. Defence 
Corps, and 300 in favour of the Monash People’s Militia. 


207 



















Lot’s Wife 


During the first few months of 1971, Lot's Wife was 
produced as a ‘total integrated’ left-wing paper. The editors, 
David Dunstan and Rob King, consciously styled it after 
the American underground press. Whilst few people 
shared their off-beat ideological position, many students 
felt that the experimental and imaginative approach they 
took was long overdue. For the first time, the editors tried 
to communicate and stimulate new ideas, rather than 
merely provide what it was assumed the students wanted. 

The political and bureaucratic opposition to the paper 
began even before the first issue hit the stands and the 
bad relations between the editors and the Publications 
Committee Chairman and members of the Administrative 
Executive never improved. The Publications Committee 
Chairman attacked the paper’s advertising policy. 

For the editors, there was a need to ‘integrate ads. into 
the face of the paper’. 


209 
















‘When we say “integrate” ads. we mean choose ads. from 
people whose products fit the consumption habits of readers, 
make/draw ads. that contribute to the appearance of the 
paper. Drawing joyous ads. from B.H.P. and the Public 
Service seems impossible if only from the artistic aspect. 
Eventually ideology takes hands with aesthetics, possibly for 
the first time at Monash.’ (A broadsheet from the Lot's Wife 
staff.) 

Advertisements from companies like C.R.A. were 
rejected, and advertisements for records, books, films, etc., 
which were seen as providing a valuable service, were 
featured. (Sometimes the advertisers were broke however.) 

Increasingly the A.E. and the Publications Committee 
were setting a new precedent of interfering in the editing of 
Lot's Wife , tacitly challenging the policy of editorial 
autonomy that had been previously taken for granted. 
Soon three out of the five people who elected the editors 
were calling for them to resign. 

An M.A.S. meeting was held on 25th March. The 
meeting instructed the editors to return to their original 
policy of accepting advertisements without discrimination. 

In no time at all, the editors provided two more issues 
which were used as ammunition against them. The first 
was the threat of prosecution for obscenity over an article 
by Wendy Bacon and the unrestrained language of the 
Furry Freak brothers. The other was the sporadic appear¬ 
ance of the supposedly weekly newspaper, not always 
entirely due to editorial incompetence. In addition, people 
complained about the experimental layout, frequent print¬ 
ing errors, lack of analytical articles by Monash people and 
so on. In fact, considering the campaign of perpetual 
harassment from right-wing critics, it is perhaps amazing 
that Lot's Wife came out at all. The editors complained of 
\ . . being slandered by self-righteous political thugs whose 
“sense of responsibility” justifies their lying to students in 
their malevolent broadsheets.’ {Defend Lot's Wife. No. 4.) 

This multitudinous criticism obscured the real issue: 
whether Lot's Wife should be an underground-styled, left- 
wing alternative to the mass media, or whether it should, 
to coin a liberal phrase, ‘put all points of view’. It is only 
in this context that we can understand why a polarization 
of opinion occurred along political lines. As the right 
gathered its forces and used the Lot's Wife issue to attack 
the left, so many left-wing students, (though certainly not 


210 


all) who were critical of Lot's Wife were forced to defend 
the editors. 

After another M.A.S. meeting, which rejected a motion 
to sack the editors, there followed an election fought solely 
along ‘sack or support’ lines, a public opinion poll, and 
finally the inevitable sacking of the editors. For the rest of 
the year, the paper was considered inoffensive. 

And the fate of Dunstan and King? That is another tale. 

‘The liberation oj Lot's Wife \ a broadsheet by Elliot 
Gingold, examined the issue, and explains why it was 
important. 

‘Our present society cannot supply what it needs most. It can 
bring out the worst in people, but rarely the best. Competition, 
not co-operation, emptiness instead of fulfilment. We must 
liberate ourselves from what this Capitalist society is making 
of us. But liberation cannot be a personal thing, we must do 
it together. No man can be liberated until the whole of 
society is liberated. Perhaps you don’t agree. You may think 
that you can liberate yourself without a revolution. What is 
becoming more and more clear to many is, however, that 
liberation is necessary, be it women’s liberation, black libera¬ 
tion, Jewish liberation or people’s liberation. The chains are 
becoming visible. 

That is what I think Lot's Wife has been about this year. 
It has not been a “normal student newspaper”, that is true. 
But these are not “normal” times. Lot’s Wife has attempted 
to be a forum in which alternatives to oppression can be 
investigated and discussed. I do not think that the Editors 
believe that the only guide to the future is the Labor Club. 
Concepts of alternatives come from many sources. But they 
will never be found in the standard student paper. Try read¬ 
ing Farrago or Rabelais , the reinforcement of the social order 
comes through as strongly as it does in the Sun.’ 


211 
























Campaign Against Class Bias in 
Education 


Soon after the reinstatement of the three expelled students, 
a conference was held (25th May) to discuss, among other 
things, the practical orientation of the youth and student 
movement and what should be done next. For a long time, 
as part of many campaigns, the Labor Club at Monash 
had been advancing the view that ‘the education system’ is 
an institution which, from primary school to University, 
functions to perpetuate, by course content as well as 
admissions policy, the class society and to serve those who 
control that society. 

It was decided at the conference to launch the ‘Campaign 
against Class bias in Education’ as an attempt to transmit 
this belief into action. Inequalities in education mirror 
inequalities in society, and thus a fight against the educa-^ 
tion system leads people to realize that they live in a" 
class society, in contrast to what they are taught: ‘Australia 
is a classless society’. Thus it is possible for reformists, who 


213 





















see education reform as an end in itself, and revolutionaries, 
whose aim is the restructuring of all society by revolution, 
can unite on the education issue. By fighting education 
inequalities in a revolutionary way, people are fighting 
capitalism in microcosm. Working class children (and 
women) are actively excluded from the higher education, 
and the ruling class deliberately tries to divide students 
from workers, by calling students ‘troublemakers who are 
wasting taxpayers’ money’. Such a campaign would bring 
students closer to the working people. The students' con¬ 
tribution to the campaign, which should take place on and 
off campus, would be to do much of the necessary research 
and propaganda work, and to formulate specific demands 
on which to direct action on campus. It was considered 
essential after the struggle had been initiated in the univer¬ 
sities, to develop a mass campaign involving the whole 
community. 

** * * 

That inequalities exist in education will certainly not 
be news to most people. A little analysis reveals the class 
nature of these inequalities. The retention rates (the pro¬ 
portion of students who attain sixth form after commencing 
in 1st form) in the different Victorian school systems are: 
private non-catholic, 94%; private catholic, 31%; govern¬ 
ment high, 25%. 

The elitist nature of private non-catholic school is 
strikingly obvious. Add to these figures the tiny percentage 
of technical students who attain H.S.C. standard and it 
can be seen that the education system effectively per¬ 
petuates the class society in which we live. 

The question of University entrance is another way to 
document class bias in education. Tom Roper sums up 
the situation in his book The Myth of Equality’: 

‘The characteristics of University entrants can be easily sum¬ 
marized. They are more likely to be children from higher 
occupational status families, their parents had well above 
average educational experience, they are likely to be male 
and from the metropolitan area, and a disproportionate 
number will have attended private non-catholic schools.’ 

(p.21) 

Roper’s summary indicates that the class system effec¬ 
tively perpetuates itself through existing institutions such 
as education and the family. 


214 


The government deliberately perpetuates these education 
inequalities. For instance. State Aid is distributed to schools 
on a population basis and not on the basis of need. Also, 
Commonwealth scholarships are distributed according to 
academic merit, rather than on the basis of need. 

THE CAMPAIGN 

In second term support for the education campaign 
was half-hearted, mainly because attention was focused on 
the Moratorium, H.A.R.T., July 4th, and the Monash 
People’s Militia. The campaign did not really start to move 
until third term. 

During these hectic times it was found that the Socialist 
Education Society, formed for the first time in 1971, 
provided a stable base for the introduction of propaganda 
and agitation around class bias in education. This was a 
good example of the decentralization and specialization 
that is required to build a serious and flexible revolutionary 
movement. 

The main demands put forward, as immediate tem¬ 
porary measures for 1972, were: 

1. That the University amend its Admissions regulations 
to provide for separate quotas, so that the proportion of 
applicants admitted from private non-catholic schools, 
private catholic schools, government city schools and 
government country schools would, in each case, be pro¬ 
portional to the total number of H.S.C. students in each 
sector. 

2. That the money raised from University tuition fees 
be channelled into special scholarships for working class 
students. 

These demands, in themselves, were not particularly 
militant or revolutionary. They were intended as the first 
step in a prolonged education campaign. Several factors 
limited the effectiveness of the first demand. In the first 
place, many impoverished government schools would not 
be able to meet their quotas because their H.S.C. failure 
rate was much higher. Secondly, and more importantly, 
most working class children are ‘weeded out’ long before 
sixth form. Thirdly, this demand, if implemented by itself, 
may only provide a more efficient stratification of people 
into capitalist society. These objections in no way invalid- 


215 










a ted the demand. The initial demands were envisaged as 
only the very first stage which would lead to an onslaught 
on the whole education system. This campaign, as opposed 
to previous ‘reform education’ movements, was demand- 
oriented, on the grounds that it is better to mobilize people 
around specific demands and build from there, than to 
expect people to fight in the abstract for some ‘perfect 
education system’. The major slogan of the campaign was 
‘Education should serve the people, not the rich’. 

An M.A.S. meeting on Tuesday, 7th September was the 
peak of the campaign, which struggled from the start to 
get off the ground. By this stage five different factions had 
developed; namely the Communists (Labor Club and 
Socialist Education Society), the Trotskyites, the D.L.P. 
Club, the Liberals, and the bizarre Electrical and Chemical 
Caucus (which concentrated mainly on the ‘smash the 
exams’ campaign). 

After much debate, the two main demands outlined 
above were carried. 

Another M.A.S. meeting was called for Monday, 13th 
September, the day of a Council meeting. Massive banners 
were prepared in the Union foyer. Two broadsheets, ‘The 
Next Step’ and ‘Support Direct Action Against Class Bias 
in Education ' were published. The motion prepared for 
the meeting called for a limited twenty-four hour sit-in in 
the university offices, to be called off at any time steps 
were initiated to implement the demands. 

However, a quorum was not obtained, and the campaign 
rapidly faded. 

But the inequalities still exist, and will have to be fought 
harder in the future, as capitalist ideology is firmly 
entrenched in the contents of all courses taught in schools 
and universities. One of the main barriers to raising interest 
in the campaign was the traditional third term exam fever 
which always draws students away from politics, for most 
members of the left had been so involved in other off- 
campus struggles that their attention was not focused on 
the Education Campaign until third term. 

Even then, the left can be criticized for stereotyped 
methods of work. Attempts to launch the campaign were 
made through M.A.S. meetings, or ‘from the top’. (This 
shows the limitations of M.A.S. as a political vehicle). 


216 


There was insufficient mass work, and too little attention 
given to finding out what the students really thought, 
especially those who do not go to M.A.S. general meetings. 
The left consequently found itself paralyzed when it could 
not raise a quorum at an M.A.S. meeting. Even the 
motions that did get through M.A.S. meetings were 
arrogantly ignored by Administration. 

The education issue will be raised again, after these 
mistakes have been corrected. There is an urgent need 
in the left for more mass work and to be less dependent 
on M.A.S. meetings. 


217 
















Dr. Matheson 


On A.B.C.’s ‘Monday Conference’ (14th June 1971), Dr. 
J. A. L. Matheson declared that ‘students come to Univer¬ 
sity to sit at the feet of their professors’. It is tempting to 
suggest that this archaic notion may result in a failure to 
understand why today’s students, having had their fill of 
professorial bootpolish, are in revolt. Such an explanation 
is facile. Dr. Matheson’s dilemma is due to an inability to 
synthesize his own contradictory views on the role and 
functioning of a modern university and on the role of a 
Vice-Chancellor in that university. This inability is, in 
turn, due to a complete commitment to Western Capitalist 
Society, and such political conservatism inevitably brings 
him into conflict with radical students. Thus he not only 
fails to understand students, but is committed to a policy 
of crushing student rebellion, which threatens the values 
he holds, and the society he values. 


219 










THE ROLE OF THE UNIVERSITY 

Dr. Matheson has consistently stated that ‘the function 
of the University is Scholarship and Truth’ and ‘their task 
is to bring to intellectual maturity the most promising 
young minds of each generation’. Further, that universities 
as communities of scholars, are the ‘highest point that 
civilization has yet reached’. In order to perform this 
function however, ‘the University as a whole must be 
politically neutral whatever the belief of its individual 
members’, for ‘the policy of neutrality is for the long term 
benefit of the University itself as an institution’, and the 
Universities must ‘be politically neutral so that they can 
be intellectually productive’. 

However, despite this advocacy for neutrality, the 
University is clearly seen as a part of society, dependent 
on it for financial support; \ . . the majority of Council 
members should continue to come from the community at 
large on the main ground that a publicly-financed institu¬ 
tion should ultimately be governed by a predominantly 
“lay” body’ ( Sound , No 7). The part played by Council 
members in this process is spelled out in the following 
statement: ‘these highly influential and highly competent 
industrialists and businessmen not only bring expertize to 
the Council’s affairs but, on occasion, they have been 
responsible for considerable funds reaching the University 
that would otherwise not have done so’ (Vestes, vol. XIV, 

pp 110). 

Thus to maintain the University as Dr. Matheson sees 
it, he must have businessmen on Council and be subser¬ 
vient to the Government. Radical activity is a threat to 
both these sources of income, and therefore must be 
stopped. 

‘We’ve got to persuade the Government to produce money 
for things we want . . . The whole object of having a 
Discipline Statute ... is to try to regulate the conduct of 
our society . . . Now the question arises therefore what will 
happen if we were to pass a Statute which could be shown 
to be of such a nature that it would not permit the University 
to conduct its affairs properly, to keep itself in order . . . 
What I’m really worried about is that it will be said that we 
haven’t got sufficient power — I think we need something like 
17.3 (double jeopardy clause, see chapters on 1968 and 1969) 
... if a student commits a crime of a kind which is relevant 
to his membership of the University it doesn’t seem to matter 


220 


much whether it's done off the campus or on it.’ (Dr. Mathe- 
son’s speech to P.A.C. on the Discipline Statute and 17.3, 
1969.) 

The providers of funds therefore exert political power 
over the University, and the purpose of power they exert 
is to maintain their own position as the recipients of social, 
economic and political power. They want to see a return 
on their money, and, as Dr. Matheson puts it ‘the 
University gives good value for money’. 

However, Dr. Matheson advocates much closer links 
with society than result merely from a financial depen¬ 
dence. ‘In these days, when the ivory tower should be as 
near as possible to the market place . . he proposed 
the Monash University Scientific and Industrial Com¬ 
munity (M.U.S.I.C.), in ‘an attempt to make University 
expertize more recognized by, and therefore more acces¬ 
sible to, industry . . ( Lot's Wife, vol. 10, No 15). Further 
quotes from the same source illustrate Dr. Matheson’s 
idea of University service to the community: 

*. . . one must first recognize the Universities’ involvement 
with society, in all faculties at many levels, and then go on 
to deplore that society does not make full use of the immense 
resources of talent, knowledge and enterprise which lie latent 
in the Universities . . . Unfortunately Australian industry 
seems to be increasingly derivative and it is therefore very 
important to bring indigenous new ideas, inventions, processes 
and methods to the notice of the people who are in a position 
to put them to advantage (Author's emphasis— University serv¬ 
ing big business?) ... It is the locally-owned industry, the 
smaller ones, that can expect to benefit most from such a 
service, and perhaps as a result to compete more effectively 
with the strongly-backed companies with overseas affiliation.’ 

Dr. Matheson believes the University can help the 
economy in this way . . . ‘without political commitment. 
In terms of economics and technology’. He appears to 
fail to understand that this is a value commitment to a par¬ 
ticular type of economy — capitalist. As will be shown 
later, this stems from his unquestioning acceptance of the 
Western Capitalist status quo. The contribution of the 
University to the existing political and economic system is 
the production of graduates. Even these graduates reflect 
the class inequalities of the political system, as they 
invariably come from middle and upper middle class fami¬ 
lies. Thus the University is an integral part of the apparatus 
which maintains this social system. 


221 






Clearly, his stand of ‘neutrality’ is a political position, 
tacitly accepting the existing social and economic power 
structure. To maintain that this stand is truly neutral is 
complete nonsense. 

THE RED CANCER! 

These contradictory views are not, however, the result 
of a confused mind, but from a consciously political posi¬ 
tion as a supporter of Western ‘democracy’ and an 
opponent of Communism. This position, as well as his 
concept of the role of the University, is responsible for his 
opposition to radicals. 

‘It is of course obvious that the capacity of the United States, 
in its struggle with Russia and/or China, is being weakened 
not only at home, but because of similar student action, 
abroad. In Turkey for instance the United States Ambassador 
was harassed recently and the government is under some 
pressure to get rid of American military installations. These 
disturbances are therefore just as effective from a communist 
point of view as if they had been deliberately stimulated.’ 
(Study Leave Report to Council, 14th July, 1969.) 

Dr. Matheson took a political stand himself in 1967 
when preventing the collection of funds for the N.L.F. 
because it was ‘repugnant to so many people that it should 
not be permitted on campus’. He believed that a Forum 
on Vietnam including as speakers the Minister for the 
Army, Mr. Whitlam and Mr. Santamaria presented ‘vir¬ 
tually all points of view’. His political views emerge in 
a speech at the Sunday Forum of Wesley Church, pub¬ 
lished in the Monash Reporter. 

‘Finally I come to the barren wasteland of political theory 
which within my lifetime has been shown to hold no promise 
whatever for mankind . . . Generalizing from this disappoint¬ 
ing experience (Czechoslovakia) I assert* that Maoism also 
will prove to be defective and that a future generation of 
radical students, recognizing that the little red thoughts are 
mere platitudes, will turn elsewhere for their inspiration.’ 

From beneath this cynical academic veneer, he some¬ 
what piously advocates ‘more respect for the great moral 
principles, which are so disarmingly simple that they are 
not convincing to the sophisticated youth of today.’ Whilst 
suitable for the Church address, this remedy is of tenuous 
relevance to reality. Dr. Matheson is a political conser¬ 
vative ’t a politically conservative society, attempting to 


222 


constrain Monash (which he has referred to as ‘my’ 
University) into an equally strangled role. 

THE ROLE OF THE VICE-CHANCELLOR 

But Dr. Matheson is more than just a campus conser¬ 
vative. He is, after all, the Vice-Chancellor, and a long¬ 
standing technocrat. His task is to ‘exercise a general 
superintendence over the educational and Administrative 
affairs of the University, and (he) shall be responsible for 
maintaining the discipline of the university’: he has the 
‘responsibility to try to give leadership in academic affairs’. 
The Vice-Chancellor is the ‘catalyst of his Universities’ 
progress and the agent who facilitates that progress’. 

Throughout the large number of speeches and writings 
of Dr. Matheson, little mention is made of education. On 
the contrary, managerial ideas are constantly stressed. 
Administrative matters have become, an obsession to the 
neglect of his educative function. Of undergraduate 
courses, he said ‘I think our structure is already pretty 
satisfactory ... (it needs) tidying up rather than wholesale 
reconstruction’. Generally, ‘I confess to being conservative 
in the sense that I see nothing wrong with the constitution 
of Australian Universities’. He sees no need for new 
courses to attack current social problems. These problems 
would be conveyed to students by ‘sensitive’ staff, and by 
‘self-education’ outside formal courses. Formal courses 
should not be biased in a particular direction, however 
enlightened that direction may be, because University 
teaching should be impartial and technically com¬ 
petent graduates are needed to solve the technically 
difficult problems (Monash Reporter, No 5, 1971). The 
idea that social responsibility in graduates should be 
‘spontaneous, not forced’ indicates the paucity of Dr. 
Matheson’s idea of education. The destruction of the 
biosphere shows the necessity for something more than 
‘self-education’. His cynicism on these matters again occurs 
in the statement that ‘students’ interest in pollution and 
the environment would be more convincing if they helped 
keep Monash clean’ {Sun, 1st March, 1972). 

On Administrative matters, however, he is much more 
specific. His views on management are undemocratic and 


223 








thoroughly elitist, with power and authority vested on the 
hands of ‘experts’ and only limited participation by the 
students. 

\ . . students, being transient members of the University, 
should not have a dominant say in matters other than those 
which concern them exclusively . . . professors are special 
and should have special rights just as they carry special 
responsibilities ... we cannot logically subject a professor 
to popular vote’ (Vestes, vol. XIV, p. 110), \ . . Universities 
are essentially aristocratic and hierarchal in character and 
simply cannot discharge their responsibilities by adopting 
exclusively egalitarian policies. This is not to say that they 
should be run on authoritarian lines, or that there should not 
be proper consultation and discussion of issues, but it is to 
say that in our community responsibility is not uniformly 
distributed. Before you conclude that this is a reactionary 
attitude in these democratic days let me remind you that you 
yourselves have been selected to come here . . (Sound, 
No. 20). 

Monash is constantly referred to in dehumanizing terms 
as a big organization (without any examination of its 
inherent values), with ‘desirable professor/staff/student 
ratios of 1:10:100;’ as institutions they are ‘exceptionally 
efficient’, and so on. 

Thus as Vice-Chancellor he is preoccupied with adminis¬ 
tration to the exclusion of anything else. The reason for 
this obsession lies in the conflict between his ideas of the 
University and of society and his arch enemy, radical 
students. 

DR. MATHESON VS. THE STUDENTS 

It was probably Dr. Matheson’s trip to America in 1969 
which precipitated this obsession. The fear of disruption of 
the University and the spectre of the American experience 
lie at the core of his attitudes to student unrest, and his 
tactics in attempting to deal with this ‘phenomenon’. The 
result is a limited, short-sighted and distorted view of 
Australian student protest (and probably of American 
students). The near hysteria of the attitude is illustrated by 
Dr. Matheson’s words: 

l to make a series of visits to Universities in different parts of 
the world in 1969 is to undertake a journey which has some 
of the nightmare qualities of science fiction: the triffids are 
springing up everywhere and no-one knows how to keep 
them in check, still less how to cut them down. But this is 
not a nightmare, alas, from which one can awaken into the 


224 


clear morning of a sane and orderly world. Everywhere the 
harsh reality is of Universities under attack, in chaos, closed 
or open only when under police protection. Everywhere the 
reality is of student rebellion, sometimes violent, sometimes 
encouraged or even stimulated by a minority of academics, 
not infrequently aggravated by real deficiencies in the system’ 
(14th July, 1969). 

From this contradictory view of the University, and this 
obsession with keeping the University open (on his terms) 
gained from his American visit, Dr. Matheson then 
examines student protest. He leans heavily on an article 
by John Searle entitled ‘The Anatomy of Student Revolt’, 
reprinted for everyone’s benefit in the 1971 Orientation 
Handbook, and on the experiences of Clark Kerr, Berkeley 
Campus reactionary. There are three main points to the 
‘analysis’: the aim of the students, their methods, and the 
tactics to be used against them. 

The aims of the students are embodied in the ‘weak 
underbelly’ theory. 

‘The militant students are revolutionaries whose object is to 
destroy the University because it is the most accessible and 
vulnerable section of society. 

\ . . for these students to choose as their point of attack 
the most enlightened areas of society, is so crazy as to call 
into question the motives and even the sanity of those who 
so behave.’ 

These students are a ‘disruptive minority’: 

‘But there is within the student body a minority group . . . 
which demands the right to impose its own conditions . . . 
and to go further than that and back its demands by the 
threats of occupation and even by the actual occupation of 
University premises’. 

Their aim is to ‘seek to use academic tolerance for 
political purposes’; and finally to ‘close the University 
down’. This minority group then selects issues and 
manipulates the student body. 

‘Then some particular issue, if possible one to which the 
University authorities can be said to have “over-reacted”, is 
chosen for special attention, and some sort of a confrontation 
is organized. With luck a good deal of general student sup¬ 
port appears; if so, that issue is pushed as hard as possible; 
if not, it is dropped and another is selected. 

The issue of open discipline hearing is a perfect example 
of an issue which has been selected and then misrepresented 
. . . The present student mass meetings are perfectly devised 
for manipulation. 


225 








There is a great bulk of moderate students . . . these 
students endeavour to change the system through democratic 
means unless they are manipulated into violent action.’ 

Tactics are basically two-pronged, the first being to 
isolate the ‘minority’ and secondly to constantly appeal to 
the ‘silent majority’ to restore order. The discrediting of 
the ‘minority’ is aided by the press. 

‘Serious damage has been done to the University . . . The 
student body must think what they can do to restore the 
reputation of a Monash degree . . . The responsibility rests 
on you, do not let this University be destroyed. 

I believe that this University faces a very serious situation 
and I think that it behoves every one of you who is listening 
to me to be ready to play some part in the crisis that has 
been brought upon us by a small minority of reckless people. 

While they (the students) are busy studying, the wreckers 
may bring the place down about their ears . . . The true 
University spirit, which is the highest point that civilization 
has yet reached (!) is in danger of being destroyed.’ 

The University staff, too, are subjected to the same 
propaganda, with talk of destructive minorities and appeals 
to the silent majority. 

‘On the other hand the world at large has difficulty in seeing 
why disaffected members of a staff, whose chief objective 
appears to be the destruction of their University, should be 
continued in employment.’ (Report to Professorial Board 
Meeting, No. 9, 1971). 

‘Universities will never return to their former stable state 
unless the academics decide that they prefer an orderly 
life, in which they can pursue their teaching and research in 
a scholarly way, to the present turbulent politicking in which 
scholarship is at a discount. If the academics come down 
on the side of order then disorder will vanish.’ (Monash 
Reporter, 1st March, 1971.) 

The final tactic to be used by the University Administra¬ 
tion, then, is the calling of police on to campus and the 
closure of the University. The anticipated public reaction 
will (hopefully) further isolate the radicals. 

‘If my colleagues and I felt that a situation had arisen which 
required help from the police, we should not hesitate to ask 
for it.’ 

These are the techniques being used at Monash, to 
eliminate student dissent. As stated by John Searle: 

‘A confident Administration bent on defending intellectual 
values and consequently determined to destroy the power 
of its essentially anti-intellectual (sic) adversary, can generally 
win.’ 

The approach is clear. Dr. Matheson plays the role of 
the fatherly prophet of doom. Using Searle’s model, he 


226 


predicts disaster at the hands of the ‘wreckers’, in order to 
elicit, or solicit, the support of the ‘silent majority’. The 
irony is that Searle, a professor of Philosophy at Berkeley, 
has apparently changed his views. He now insists that ‘The 
picture of a silent majority and a radical minority on 
campus is false ... If anything, there is a growing feeling 
of class consciousness among students' (Newsweek, 19th 
October, 1970, p 52). 

The radical minority idea may have once been true, but 
it is quite false now — the majority of students want a 
qualitative change in society. The differences appear in the 
methods of achieving the change, and the causes of the 
current social ills, in short, in the political awareness of 
the students. The Administration and Dr. Matheson, by 
attempting to dissipate the ‘danger’ of disruption to attribut¬ 
ing it to a handful of anarchistic students, actually intensi¬ 
fies the radicalization. If they were to admit that radicals 
were numerous and not bent on destruction, they would 
have to answer questions they obviously wish to avoid. 
They would have to explain why the left has support, and 
why the University Administration is committed to crush¬ 
ing the left. They would have to admit that the University 
is a bastion of reaction. 

The left at Monash has never wished the University to 
close, and has stated many times quite categorically that it 
wants it open. The question is, ‘open on whose terms?’ — 
as a fortress of conservatism, the servant of a corrupt 
society, or as a catalyst for social change and a servant of 
all the people in society, not only the upper echelons of 
power and wealth. These arguments of destructive 
minorities deliberately obscure this basic issue. 

By continually invoking an atmosphere of crisis it is 
Dr. Matheson, not the left, who does the manipulation. He 
himself calls general meetings of the University when he 
believes the ‘silent majority’ will be on his side, and 
regularly hints that he may have to resign if things get 
worse. The spectre of America also has the effect of polar¬ 
izing staff and students. Many staff members, fearing for 
their positions, will rally to the Vice-Chancellor’s side in a 
crisis, and it is therefore in his interest to convey the feeling 
of crisis in statements like ‘the University is in danger of 
being destroyed’. 


227 








In 1968, it was Dr. Matheson who jeopardized the value 
of the Monash degrees stating that the political troubles at 
Monash would lower their status. This approach is usually 
guaranteed to win the support of moderate students, many 
of whom regard a degree as a meal ticket. He also tries to 
invoke a strange sort of patriotic pride with appeals to 
students to protect this ‘great University’. All these 
approaches are aimed at isolating the radicals. The appeals 
to students to use the ‘right channels’ as a means of 
expressing dissent are aimed at institutionalizing, and 
therefore crushing dissent. 

The students do not ‘select’ issues to get support. They 
protest at the University, and attempt to reform it, simply 
because they work there, and can see that it perpetrates 
the values of a society responsible for the Vietnam War, 
racial discrimination and other forms of oppression. These 
matters which concern students are cynically referred to as 
‘sacred topics’ in Searle’s first analysis. Dr. Matheson’s 
blind use of this analysis founders when he attempts to 
examine student unrest in Canada, which he could not 
directly attribute to the ‘selection’ of issues like Vietnam 
was or racial discrimination. Perhaps he should do some 
deeper thinking. 

Dr. Matheson admits that he does not understand 
radicals. ‘I do not pretend to understand the motives of 
these people (radicals) but I do understand why they get 
some support. He goes on to describe society’s ills, and 
says: 

‘We need look no further for the source of student unrest. 
We need not be surprised by it, indeed we might well hope 
that from it might come the salvation of mankind were it not 
that the activist students themselves have made stupid mistakes 
in their eagerness to find an instant solution.’ 

The undercurrent of ridicule of radicals is also an 
isolating factor. Searle himself openly denigrates the 
radicals. 

‘He (the undergraduate) feels deeply insecure and the stridency 
of his rhetoric should not conceal from us the depth of his 
insecurity. 

The apparent passionate convictions of most university 
demonstrators are in fact terribly fragile, and when away 
from the crowd many of them are fairly easily talked out of 
their wildest fantasies. But what demonstrators perceive as 


228 


the highest of idealism often looks from the outside like a 
mixture of vandalism and imbecilic dogmatism.’ 

But the real point is that Dr. Matheson does not fail to 
understand radicals. He understands very well that they 
are a threat to his values. He is a committed anti¬ 
communist conservative, as are most liberal academics in 
Australia. His ideas on the neutrality of the University 
are hogwash. His concept of the ‘community of scholars’ 
is irrevelant. The University is a responsible, integral and 
on-going part of a society based on oppression and 
exploitation. These are the reasons for his attitudes, and 
for statements such as: 

‘Contemporary student protests differ from those of earlier 
generations only in that they flout previously accepted con¬ 
ventions about how one should behave in and towards one s 
University. They are no more nor no less shocking than the 
cultural revolution in China which finally destroyed the 
traditional respect for the old which used to characterize 
that country.’ 


229 










Overview 


ON PROVOCATION 

Dr. Matheson’s theory of student rebellion, described in the 
last chapter, has the appearance of plausibility. After all, 
isn’t it true that crises occur at Monash because of some 
Labor Club action which has provoked the Administration 
to ‘over-react’ and which has then involved the mass of 
students in a campaign against this ‘over-reaction’? 
Couldn’t it be that the Labor Club is deliberately stirring 
up trouble in order to bring the University to a halt? 

There is an obvious flaw in that argument. It is simply 
this. If Dr. Matheson is convinced, as he says he is, that 
the Labor Club is deliberately trying to provoke the 
authorities to over-react and bring about a confrontation 
between Administration and students, then why does he 
‘over-react’ time after time and bring about that very 
confrontation? If there is something stereotyped about the 
Labor Club’s pattern of rallying students in support of 
democratic rights when Admin tries to discipline the left 
for some ‘provocative’ action, isn’t there something much 


231 








more stereotyped about the way Admin unfailingly is 
provoked and appears so willing and almost eager to be 
provoked by the left’s actions? 

Let us look at this idea of "provocation’ more closely 
and in the light of what has been revealed in the previous 
chapters. 

When the Labor Club initiated direct financial aid to the 
N.L.F. in 1967, they were undoubtedly being provocative 
and could expect a hostile reaction from the Government 
and press. After all, this was partly their intention . . . the 
aid itself was insignificant, but the political implications of 
Australians being willing to aid an ‘enemy’ in defiance of 
the government, were important. 

But can it be said that the Labor Club was provoking 
the Administration of Monash University? Should they 
have expected to have their activities banned on campus 
and publicly discredited by the Vice-Chancellor? Was the 
left being ‘provocative’ when it even went to the lengths of 
making the Labor Club’s N.L.F. Aid Committee an 
‘autonomous non university body’ and passively accepted 
the ban on their collecting non-medical aid on campus? 
Wasn’t it rather Dr. Matheson who was trying to force a 
confrontation when he went further and banned all collec¬ 
tions for aid in the name of University ‘neutrality’? Wasn’t 
it Dr. Matheson who was being provocative when he dis¬ 
ciplined three students merely to show his support for a 
repressive Act of Parliament which had not even become 
law yet? Wasn’t it provocative for the Discipline Committee 
to ignore student requests for no disciplinary measures to 
be taken when those requests were expressed peacefully 
through the S.R.C.? Wasn’t it even more provocative for 
the University Council to destroy the transcript of the 
closed discipline appeal rather than let it be read by 
students? 

This was the first ‘confrontation’ between students and 
authorities at Monash. It first raised the question in 
students’ minds of the legitimacy of University Discipline 
being used against them. Yet in all of it there were no 
sit-ins, no occupations, none of the ‘disruption’ and ‘threat 
to destroy the University’ that we are told is the sole reason 
for Admin’s determination to crush the radical left. 
Can any honest person argue that it was really Labor Club 


232 


provocation which caused the Administration to ‘over¬ 
react’ in 1967, and that it was not rather the Administra¬ 
tion’s conscious policy to attack radicals for their entirely 
peaceful anti-war activity? 

Again, Print is obviously a ‘provocative’ publication, but 
wasn’t it rather more provocative to threaten to censor it 
and other student publications through the Discipline 
Statute as Dr. Matheson did in 1967 and 1968? 

From 1968 onwards, students increased their involve¬ 
ment in off-campus demonstrations, particularly against the 
Vietnam War. To the ruling class who have conscripted 
Australian youth as cannon fodder for the U.S. war of 
aggression in Indo-China, this, of course, is provocative. 
It is met with bashings, arrests, fines and gaol. Convictions 
at demonstrations can now lead to sacking or refusal of 
employment or a studentship if you are a teacher or a 
teacher-trainee. This of course is ‘natural’. After all every 
other type of worker knows what will happen to him if he 
is ‘political’, so why shouldn’t it happen to University 
graduates? 

But in anybody’s terms, how could it be said that these 
demonstrations were a plot to provoke Monash University? 
The first sit-in at Monash occurred when students heard 
that the University intended to define its disciplinary 
powers to cover all acts ‘prejudicial to the interests of the 
University’ whether committed on or off the campus. 
Students correctly saw this as an attempt to curtail their 
off-campus political activities, such as participation in 
demonstrations. They ended this first sit-in as soon as 
Dr. Matheson reassured them that he sympathized with 
their objections. He proudly announced to the press that it 
was all a ‘misunderstanding’, that he had no intention of 
introducing any objectionable statute and that if he had 
believed what the students believed about the proposed 
statute the he ‘would have marched too’. The absolute 
hypocrisy of these statements can be seen by examining 
the following definition of ‘an act of misconduct’ specifi¬ 
cally approved by Dr. Matheson for the Papua-New 
Guinea Institute of Technology. 

\ . . if it is an act done by students as such and occurs out¬ 
side the precincts of the Institute and is, in the opinion of the 
Director, of such a nature as to be detrimental to the interests 


233 








of the Institute or of its members as such or as to bring the 
Institute or the staff or student body into public ridicule 
or contempt.’ 

This obnoxious clause is exactly what the 1968 sit-in at 
Monash was all about. It is quite clearly directed against 
student participation in off-campus demonstrations. The 
Statute was enacted in 1969 by the Council of the Institute, 
of which Dr. Matheson is Chairman. The Statute, which 
is exactly duplicated in the Discipline Statute of the 
University of Papua-New Guinea, is based on the Monash 
draft condemned by M.A.S. The major difference is that 
the objectionable features which were implicit in the 
Monash version, were spelt out explicitly in the New 
Guinea one, so that in clauses like the one just quoted, 
the real intentions of the authorities were clearly revealed. 
Far from ‘marching’ through the streets of Port Moresby 
against this fascist legislation it appears that Dr. Matheson 
was actually its author! Unless we are to believe that Dr. 
Matheson is a rascist who regards white Monash students 
as needing less ‘guidance’ than black Nuigini ones, then it 
is hard to escape the conclusion that he was ‘not quite 
telling the truth’ when he assured Monash students that 
he is both a rascist and a liar, but our lawyers advise us 
to stick to one or the other . . .’) 

As an imperialist academic. Dr. Matheson was 
prominent in the establishment of both these colonial 
educational institutions and is a member of both their 
governing Councils. He is also a shareholder in C.R.A., 
one of the major foreign monopolies exploiting the 
Nuigini people. The reading for anyone interested in the 
study of Australian ‘paternalist’ oppression in Nuigini. 

In view of the struggle against provisions in the Monash 
Status of Students Statute, allowing for the exclusion of 
students with serious criminal records, and the indignant 
denials that these provisions indicated a desire by the 
University to extend control over the private off-campus 
conduct of students, it is interesting to note the provisions 
made in the corresponding New Guinea Statute: 

‘9. 

(The Academic Board may hold an enquiry for the purpose 
of considering whether to exclude someone where) . . . (c) 
the conduct of the applicant or student has at any time 
been such that a determination should be made for the protec¬ 
tion, within the precincts, of the Institute of— 


234 


(i) any property of the Institute, any student or member of 
the staff of the Institute; or (ii) the person of any student or 
member of staff . . . (d) the applicant has been excluded from 
any other tertiary educational institution on ground which, if 
it had taken place while he was a member of the Institute, 
would in the opinion of the Board of the Institute have led 
to his exclusion from the Institute . . .' 

Needless to say, the New Guinea Statutes do not 
even have the pretence of student ‘participation’ on 
the Discipline Committee. . . . another principle which 
Dr. Matheson claimed to support. Not knowing any 
of this at the time, students accepted the assurances 
given by Dr. Matheson and the Council and took no 
further action about discipline. Was it then ‘Labor Club 
provocation’ which caused Admin to re-introduce in 1969, 
exactly the measures students had thought agreement was 
reached about in 1968? Was it ‘provocative’ of M.A.S. to 
demand that these measures be unconditionally withdrawn? 
Was it provocative of the Labor Club to hold a demon¬ 
stration in the Administration building when Admin 
refused to even negotiate about the M.A.S. demands, 
which Admin was supposed to have agreed with the 
previous year? 

Certainly Administration must have thought so, because 
the Council meeting was cancelled and half a dozen 
students were given suspended expulsions for ‘disrupting 
it’. Yet the students did not try to prevent the discipline 
‘trials’ being held, and only when the Committee refused 
to allow an open hearing (or even closed circuit TV) did 
students force their way into the meeting room. Was this 
provocation, or was it Admin that was being provocative 
in trying to discipline students for holding a peaceful 
demonstration and then disciplining them in private? 
When the authorities charged another batch of students 
for ‘acting in a manner likely to disrupt a meeting 
of the discipline committee’, and handed down suspended 
sentences of expulsion for one or two years, M.A.S. did 
precisely nothing about it beyond declaring that the sen¬ 
tences should be ignored. Was this ‘provocative’? 

At the beginning of 1970, the Science Faculty Board 
excluded Albert Langer on phoney ‘academic’ grounds. 
If this was due to his ‘provocation’ in taking an active part 
in the struggle in 1969, then why wasn’t he expelled for 


235 














■ 


‘acts of misconduct’ in a disciplinary trial? Quite clearly 
this action was not an ‘over-reaction to provocation’, but a 
carefully thought-out surprise attack on left-wing students. 
It was a partially successful attack, because many students 
refused to believe that Admin was lying to them 
about Langer’s academic qualifications. When M.A.S. 
finally woke up to what had happened, and a meeting 
voted overwhelmingly to demand his immediate readmis¬ 
sion, but took no direct action, Administration simply 
took no notice of this at all. Later on Dr. Matheson even 
remarked that the left-wing had ‘dropped’ the issue in order 
to stir on other things. Presumably the failure to occupy a 
building was regarded by him as indicating a lack of 
interest. (However, the authorities were made cautious 
enough to allow Langer to enrol in the following year.) 
This same extremely provocative attitude on the part of 
Admin has been shown on quite a number of occasions. 
Despite all the ‘moderates’ say about ‘reasonable men’ and 
the virtues of ‘reasoned discourse’ and ‘negotiations’, it is 
a simple fact that while M.A.S. has almost invariably won 
either complete or partial victory through direct action, it 
has never won any demand it has made that was not 
backed up by a threat of action. 

As a matter of fact Admin’s arrogance is so great 
that it usually doesn’t even bother to reply to, com¬ 
ment on, or consider M.A.S. demands that don’t carry a 
threat. Examples are: 

(1) Car parking. M.A.S. voted to strongly denounce the 
use of student fees for this purpose and condemned arro¬ 
gance of Admin in ignoring student views. However, 
it decided not to take further action in view of 
Administration’s threat to turn a relatively minor issue into 
a crisis by calling the police. ' Sound 9 reported this as 
‘M.A.S. accepts parking fees’. 

(2) Class bias in education. M.A.S. demanded that quota 
restrictions should be eased for the 1972 intake on students 
from working class backgrounds. Since no action was 
threatened, Admin not only made no concessions 
whatever, thus excluding a few hundred more working 
class kids this year, but didn’t even bother to reply. 

Many more examples can be obtained from a search 
through M.A.S. minutes. 


236 


This rather ‘provocative’ attitude has not gone unnoticed 
by Monash students, who these days generally couple their 
demands with time specifications for their institution, just 
so Administration will sit up and take notice. 

The first and only example of left-wing students taking 
action against Admin that wasn’t directly and immediately 
in response to an attack by Admin on them was the 
three-day occupation of the Careers and Appointments 
office in 1970. This was a limited ‘protest’ action, 
intended as a preliminary to the 4th July demonstra¬ 
tions. The ‘only’ ‘provocation’ from Administration was of 
course the fact that Imperialist firms engaging in such 
criminal acts as war profiteering from the manufacture of 
anti-personnel weapons, were being allowed to use the 
offices for recruiting. The action was taken by the Labor 
Club without the support of M.A.S., and indeed, M.A.S. ‘ * 
* subsequently disassociated itself from it and voted to 
support the continued functioning of the office, although it 
voted against allowing Admin to deal with students 
as it wished. It is perhaps worth mentioning that in the 
subsequent struggle, M.A.S. views changed considerably 
and it is possible that today that students would not only 
have opposed discipline but would also have supported the 
action. 

The fact that Admin actually expelled students 
involved in the occupation cannot be regarded as over- 
reaction to provocation’. It was a carefully planned action, 
with Administration deliberately dragging out the trials 
until the vacation, and not announcing the sentences until 
weeks after the verdict. Later Dr. Matheson was to make 
his classic announcement that the trials were prolonged 
‘entirely due to the delaying tactics of the defendants’ 
(who did not even attend the hearings!) 

Wasn’t it ‘provocative’ to expel these students under the 
old and discredited Discipline Statute, to refuse to even 
discuss these measures when M.A.S. overwhelmingly con¬ 
demned them, and to sit back impassively while students 
expressed their opposition in overwhelming votes at large 
meetings, referenda and a boycott of lectures? Was it 
really ‘provocative’ for M.A.S. to finally hold a twenty-four 
hour sit-in of the Administration building, after every other 
channel had been tried and Administration was obviously 


237 








delaying announcing the Appeals results till the end of 
term? Wasn't it the most extreme provocation imaginable 
for Admin to placate student anger by agreeing to 
hold a referendum of the entire University population, and 
then to refuse to abide by the result when they lost, and 
when exam-time had finally arrived? Yet the reaction to 
this by M.A.S. was only to almost unanimously demand at 
a meeting of virtually the entire University, that the Council 
should resign. In addition a Council meeting which had 
been held in St. Kilda to escape student wrath, was forced 
to disband when students tracked them down to their 
hiding place! 

It was not until the following year that M.A.S. really 
began to reply to this monstrous betrayal of democratic 
principles, by physically obstructing the Council from 
meeting on campus until it agreed to abide by the referen¬ 
dum results. If this was ‘provocative’ then it should be 
mentioned that not only did it follow the complete failure 
of the totally unrepresentative Council to respond to reason 
for several months, but it also followed a really vicious 
‘provocation’ by Admin when new discipline charges 
were laid (and later withdrawn) against about thirty more 
students during the vacation, with the apparent aim of 
having a ‘purge’ while other students were away from 
campus. 

Administration’s response was, as usual, to ‘over-react’. 
Having already tried injunctions threatening students with 
gaol for entering the Administration building, their new 
‘over-reaction’ was to make this threat a reality by having 
four busloads of police waiting nearby at Oakleigh police 
station for the ‘go-ahead’. Only when students remained 
firm in the face of this did Admin suddenly cease 
to ‘over-react’ and decide to extend ‘clemency’ to the 
expelled students. 

A detailed review of this expulsions struggle lasting 
from late 1970 to early 1971 makes it very difficult to 
sustain the ‘provocation/over-reaction’ theory. Events read 
more like a consciously fought out battle between Adminis¬ 
tration and M.A.S.; with Admin determined to expel 
militants and seeking to isolate the Labor Club from 
student support, and the Labor Club consciously fighting 
back and seeking to isolate Admin. 


238 


For those who support the simple thesis that ‘the Labor 
Club wants to get police on campus so as to have a crisis 
that will close the University and radicalize the students’, it 
must be rather hard to explain some of the stands which 
that club took. For example, when Dr. Matheson 
announced that he would inevitably call police if the next 
Council meeting was blocked the Labor Club could have 
won its supposed ‘hearts desire’ by simply blocking the 
meeting, a decision already approved by M.A.S. Instead it 
recognized that Matheson’s aim was to rally all those who 
didn’t want a crisis around him, and adopted the tactic of 
reversing the position by offering to have the expelled 
students sign formal undertakings to ‘be good in future’. 

Even at the very last minute, when M.A.S. had com¬ 
mitted itself to blocking a Council meeting if the students 
were not re-admitted, it was the Labor Club which pro¬ 
posed that the demand should be reduced to the proposal 
that a new referendum be held. When this was adopted it 
was the Labor Club which called on the 2000 or more 
students assembled on the steps of Administration not to 
carry out the M.A.S. resolution immediately (thus 
immediately bringing on the police, who were waiting) but 
to let the Council meeting proceed while Administration 
could contemplate the numbers waiting outside, and then 
block them inside if they reached the wrong decision. 
Finally Dr. Matheson and Council made a complete 
back-down. 

All of this is consistent with the view that the left 
consciously plans its tactics in order to isolate Administra¬ 
tion to the maximum, and build the greatest possible sup¬ 
port among staff and students. This can be regarded as 
‘sinister’ or ‘natural’ depending on one’s standpoint. But 
none of it is consistent with the claim that the left is 
simply out to cause a ‘confrontation’ at any price. 

If the provocation theory is inadequate to explain 
student rebellion, what then is the explanation? We say 
that the explanation lies in the fact that most students 
want the university to serve the people instead of being a 
training ground for the administrators of capitalist society; 
that science and engineering students dont want to have 
to learn how to make better profits by thinking up ways 
to make workers ‘redundant’ and exploit them better 


239 











by polluting the environment, by designing cars for profit 
instead of safety, by inventing bigger and better bombs, 
defoliants, gasses, to drop on the Vietnamese people and 
so on; that arts students don't want to be trained as 
teachers in order to indoctrinate young kids in the virtues 
of conformity and ‘discipline’ in Victoria’s ramshackle, 
motheaten, ‘education system’; that Economics students 
don't want to have to learn how to administer the big 
Banks, Insurance firms, Oil and Chemical Companies and 
other (mainly Yankee) monopolies which exploit the 
working people; that medicine and law students don't want 
to profit from the sicknesses and troubles of others in a 
society where poor people cannot afford decent medical 
treatment and only the rich can obtain help from the 
Courts. It is because of this basic dissatisfaction with their 
role in society and with the nature of our society in general 
that students rebel and become involved in radical activity. 
And it is when Admin has attempted to limit this radical 
activity that students have risen up and directed their 
rebellion against the University authorities themselves. 

ON OPPORTUNISM 

This brings us to a characteristic feature of the Admini¬ 
stration at Monash, which unlike most of its other features, 
is not entirely identical with other reactionary institutions. 
This is its opportunism. 

All reactionaries are opportunistic in that they do not 
dare to openly explain their principles but resort to lies 
and distortions in order to cover up their position. This 
appears to be an inevitable consequence of being reaction¬ 
ary! But the Monash Administration is far more opportuni¬ 
stic than most and this had been its undoing. 

Its strategy, when faced with student protest has invari¬ 
ably been to avoid direct confrontations on questions of 
principle, but to twist and manoeuvre, pretending to be 
on the students’ side, while actually stabbing them in the 
back. This always has short term advantages but it equally 
certainly results in long term defeat. By consistently acting 
in this way the Monash authorities have, more than most, 
undermined their own ‘authority’ over the radicals. They 
have created a situation where, in times of crisis very few 
people believe what they say, and even within the Admini¬ 


240 


stration itself splits and conflicts arise because nobody 
trusts anybody else. 

An obvious example was the holding of the referendum 
in 1970, and then ignoring its result. This gave Administra¬ 
tion the short tennadvantage of delaying matters by a few 
days until exam time so that direct action could not be 
used to force readmission of the students that year. But 
the long term effects were quite disastrous. It created the 
situation in which there was a total breach between the 
authorities and the people they administer—a situation 
which Winston Churchill advised should never be allowed 
to occur in any colony! 

A similar example was the deliberate lying over AJbert 
Langer’s academic qualifications. This resulted in a 
temporary victory, but in the long run it not only made 
the minority of students who were defeated so bitterly 
angry that their determination to hit back at the authorities 
was strengthened manyfold; it also resulted in the disil¬ 
lusionment of those students who later discovered that 
they had been deceived. 

Probably the most significant example has been the one 
with which we introduce this chapter. By continually 
presenting the problem as a ‘plot to close the university’ 
Administration has often succeeded in diverting attention 
away from its real purpose of suppressing radical students. 
But there are two long term disadvantages which Dr. 
Matheson has only just started to notice. The first is that 
with five vears of ‘crises’, ‘imminent danger that the Uni¬ 
versity will close’ and threats that the Vice-Chancellor will 
resign (leaving the students to the tender mercies of some¬ 
one perhaps even more reactionary), people are starting 
to wonder when some of these events are actually going to 
happen. The Monash Administration is beginning to find 
itself in the same position as the little boy who cried ‘wolf’ 
too often . . . nobody is listening. The second problem is 
much more serious. By indignantly and dishonestly deny¬ 
ing that it wished to crack down on radical political 
activity, and insisting that University disciplinary measures 
are solely concerned with ‘disruption’ Admin has 
created a situation where it has totally destroyed whatever 
‘moral basis’ it might have had. Even though the indignant 
denials enabled Admin to successfully discipline students 


241 










who were active in the campaigns against controls 
on participation in off-campus activities and on the entry 
of students with ‘records’, this has not deterred the students 
who were involved, or discouraged M.A.S. from continuing 
to resort to direct action whenever it has felt important 
principles were at stake. But they have created a situation 
where the University can’t act against the ordinary political 
activities of its students without expecting a massive up¬ 
heaval. 

Another important example of opportunism is the 
Monash Administration’s practice of always seeking to 
force a ‘crisis’ whenever students ‘confront’ them. This is 
done by issuing wild statements about ‘violence’ to the 
press, cancelling lectures to call students out for solemn 
lectures by the Vice-Chancellor, ‘escalating’ the situation 
by threatening to call the police or taking out Supreme 
Court injunctions that threaten to gaol students, or laying 
fresh discipline charges. It has the short-term effect of 
creating an hysterical atmosphere in which militant students 
feel isolated from the general public and in danger of 
repression, and are therefore less willing to take action, 
and of involving numbers of students and staff in a 
campaign to ‘save the University from destruction’. The 
immediate result is usually that larger numbers of students 
turn up to M.A.S, meetings. The new arrivals not having 
yet experienced the ‘proper channels’ for themselves, tend 
to be more in favour of ‘moderation’ and vote down 
motions for direct action. In the long term however, the 
involvement of these ‘moderate’ students only strengthens 
the campaign because they very soon cease to be moderate. 
(Reactionaries are incapable of grasping the concept that 
things sometimes transform themselves into their opposite 
under given conditions. Because a student holds reactionary 
ideas when he hasn’t been involved in M.A.S. meetings, 
this doesn’t mean he won’t change when he does become 
involved.) Another aspect is that after long over-use the 
tactic begins to be less effective so that students and staff 
begin to blame Administration, rather than the Labor Club 
for ‘disrupting things’. After all who really has the power 
to close the University, and who really spends all their 
time talking about it? This ‘backlash’ particularly arose in 


1971 when Dr. Matheson threatened to call police simply 
so that the Council could continue meeting on campus 
without acknowledging the results of the referendum which 
he himself had organized. In the resulting ‘crisis’, even 
quite reactionary staff members realized that M.A.S. had 
made all the concessions it could and was determined to 
defeat the expulsions even if this meant a violent fight 
with the police, and they therefore turned their energies 
away from denouncing students towards pressuring 
Administration to back down. 

Perhaps the most clear-cut example of this ‘crisis- 
mongering’, was the announcement in 1969, that the Uni¬ 
versity Council would be holding its regular monthly meet¬ 
ing off-campus, for fear of student disruption. This was 
featured widely on TV and in the Press, and no doubt 
would have impressed the public with the seriousness of 
the situation. However it did not cut much ice with students 
who knew, not only that there had been no threat to 
disrupt the meeting, that the previous Council meeting 
which had occurred during a campaign against Administra¬ 
tion had not been disrupted, that the meeting was being 
held during the vacation when there were no students 
around to do any disrupting anyway! 

This suggestion in 1969 that the Council could not meet 
on its own campus came at a time when there were calls 
for the State Government to ‘intervene’ at Monash to 
‘restore order’. Dr. Matheson made frequent use of this 
with appeals to students not to cause trouble because the 
unfavourable publicity could result in outside intervention 
and/or lower the reputation of Monash degrees. The 
revelation that Administration was deliberately promoting 
such publicity with a view to preparing public opinion for 
the possibility of intervention rather undermined the 
effectiveness of this tactic and very greatly increased the 
‘credibility gap’ between them and the students. A similar 
situation arose on the question of the value of Monash 
degrees, students did not fail to notice that it was the good 
Doctor himself who was responsible for public statements 
that their reputation was lowered by student protests. 

Denials by the Labor Club have never completely 
removed the stigma of Administration’s repeated assertions 


242 


243 










that their main aim is to close down the University. The 
Labor Club insists that its aim is to open it up, and that 
throughout the world it has always been the authorities, 
rather than the students, who have sought to close down 
Universities as a way of intimidating student protest. How¬ 
ever Administration’s own actions in raising the suggestion 
that the University may have to be closed and manu¬ 
facturing publicity in support of that suggestion, have done 
more than the left ever could to counteract this claim. 

Related to the Administration’s opportunism is what 
could be called its ‘triviality’—a determination to avoid 
larger issues by concentrating on smaller ones. A classic 
example is the statement which Dr. Matheson sent around 
to all staff members in the University and to M.A.S. on 
the eve of a threatened blockade of the University offices. 
It dealt with the potential fire hazard created by large 
congregations of students in the exits from the building. 

If things run true to form, Administration’s reply to this 
book will consist of a list of petty quibbles about particular 
points which will be described as ‘lies’. They will make no 
attempt to come to grips with the basic issues involved, 
and will avoid taking part in a public debate on the subject 
matter of the book. 

The claim that Administration is consciously trying to 
limit freedom on campus sounds extreme, but is it? Here 
is an excerpt from Dr. Matheson’s 1972 report to State 
Parliament. He said that the long term aim of the radicals 
was not ‘pretty apparent’, and, 

‘The dispute over the Discipline Statute, and the earlier argu¬ 
ment about the admission of and readmission of students with 
some sort of a record have the object of making this Uni¬ 
versity—and others—safe bases for political activity.’ 

Right through 1968 and 1969, Dr. Matheson and the 
Deans were consistently assuring students and staff that 
there were ‘no political implications’ whatsoever in the draft 
Discipline Statute and admissions regulations. The allega¬ 
tion that the exclusions of students with records could be 
directed at radicals was indignantly dismissed as vicious 
left-wing distortion of the university’s high and noble 
motives (namely the protection of University members 
from rapists and arsonists). Many students and staff mem¬ 
bers were actually taken in by this, but they opposed 
Administration because they thought the justification for 


244 


off-campus discipline and admissions regulations that were 
put forward by Administration were unconvincing, and 
that these measures were therefore unnecessary. 

What Dr. Matheson has said in Parliament, is that he 
objects to the University being a ‘safe base for political 
activity’, it contradicts every principle which the ruling 
class pretends that its Universities stand for. It says in 
effect that Dr. Matheson’s aim was to make Monash 
University an unsafe place in which to engage in political 
activity. In other words the Discipline Statute and admis¬ 
sions regulations were aimed at making Monash unsafe 
‘for political activity’, they were political and Administra¬ 
tion was lying when it earlier denied this. Why should a 
University Vice-Chancellor commit himself to opposing 
the Universities being ‘safe bases for political activity’. To 
understand this one must examine what sort of political 
activity students have been engaged in and what political 
views the University authorities are committed to uphold¬ 
ing. Perhaps the best statement of this is again provided 
by Dr. Matheson himself: 

‘It is of course obvious that the capacity of the United States, 
in its struggle with Russia and/or China, is being weakened! 
not only at home, but because of similar student action abroad. 
In Turkey for instance the United States Ambassador was 
harassed recently and the government is under some pressure 
to get rid of American military installations. These disturb¬ 
ances are therefore just as effective from a communist point 
of view as if they had been deliberately stimulated’. (Report 
to Monash Council on Study Leave spent in the U.S. 14th 
July, 1969.) 

Of course Dr. Matheson concedes that student protests 
‘have every appearance of spontaneity’ but there is some¬ 
thing very revealing about the way he views the conflict. 

It shows that far from being the ‘wishy-washy liberal’ 
that he has been occasionally portrayed, the Vice-Chancel¬ 
lor of Monash University is in fact a determined anti¬ 
communist conservative. His earlier statements about 
Whitlam, Santamaria and the Minister of the Army 
representing ‘virtually all points of view’ on Vietnam, 
reveals the same outlook. This outlook is not that of a 
man concerned about the ‘disruption of a centre of learn¬ 
ing’. It is the outlook of a man concerned that ‘the capacity 
of the United States, in its-struggle with Russia and/or 
China, is being weakened . . 


245 










Dr. Matheson is correct in his estimate of the situation; 
the capacity of the United States in its efforts to dominate 
the world is being weakened. Since his report in 1969, it 
has been weakened still further, and students have played 
no small part in that. Of course the main force in defeating 
U.S. imperialism has been the national liberation struggles 
of Asia, Africa and Latin America, but American students 
in particular have played a substantial role also (the 
spectacular upsurge over the invasion of Cambodia is well 
known): In countries such as Turkey students have, as 
Dr. Matheson points out, struggled vigorously against 
Yankee domination and the use of their country as aggres¬ 
sive war bases. Why should Dr. Matheson be worried 
about events in Turkey, if he doesn’t himself identify with 
the global aims of U.S. imperialism? In Japan, students 
have initiated the struggle against the revival of Japanese 
militarism, a militarism which could once again threaten 
Australia. 

Dr. Matheson is correct in fearing that exactly the same 
movement is developing in Australia, and that students are 
playing an increasing part in it. The 1970 occupation of 
the Careers and Appointments Office in protest against 
U.S. war profiteers was an anti-imperialist action. So was 
the tremendous involvement of Monash and other students 
in Moratorium activities and the anti-racist movement. It is 
true that these struggles are still at a comparatively low 
level compared with those overseas, but they are, never¬ 
theless, happening. Students alone cannot play a decisive 
role in the struggle, but more and more students are 
beginning to recognize the need for unity with the working 
class and for acceptance of the leading role of the working 
class in revolutionary socialist (not ‘student power’) 
struggle. Dr. Matheson is right to be worried. 

But he is not right in his consistent refusal to publicly 
state the issues as fairly and squarely as he does in the 
Study Leave Report and the report to State Parliament. 

VfONASH TO-DAY 

The fact remains that, in spite of all the efforts of the 
University authorities, Monash to-day is a safe base for 
political activity. What does being a ‘safe base for political 


246 


activity’ mean precisely? It means that Monash students 
now can freely agitate and organize in support of any 
political movement whatsoever without fear of internal 
disciplinary action (the ban on aid to the N.L.F. is still 
technically in existence, but it is unenforceable). It means 
that M.A.S. can contribute its funds and facilities to 
supporting the Moratorium and anti-racist and anti¬ 
conscription struggles. Administration is able to use its 
power over all University finance to prevent direct finan¬ 
cial grants going to ‘non-University bodies’, but it does not 
dare stop the considerable quantity of propaganda that is 
produced from Monash in support of radical activities, or 
the use of Union facilities as an organizing base for protest 
demonstrations. 

Further, the issue of the Discipline Statute has reached 
a stalemate. Administration has not been able to introduce 
the clauses it wants and it is still saddled with the old 
one. This is so broad that Administration technically has 
the power to do anything it likes, but it knows perfectly 
well it would have to call in the police and smash M.A.S. 
to do it. (As a matter of interest, an M.A.S. meeting in 
1970 accepted, against Labor Club wishes, the twelfth 
draft of the Discipline Statute, with the reservations that 
there should be open hearings, and staff representatives on 
the Discipline Committee should be elected by the staff 
themselves. Administration promptly withdrew it and went 
away to write another five new drafts, each one worse than 
the last. M.A.S. was finally presented with a seventeenth 
draft in 1970 which, among other things, provided that ‘if 
necessary’ Administration could set up a Discipline Com¬ 
mittee of any five people in Australia and use it to expel 
students. Naturally this was rejected and Administration 
has not been game enough to submit subsequent drafts to 
the students for fear of a reaction.) On the other hand it 
means that students can deny the use of University facilities 
to reactionary organizations like the Australian Army and 
the U.S. and drive President Nixon’s ‘Special Advisor on 
Youth’ off the campus in 1971, without Administration 
being able to do very much about it. 

Students have been elected to the Public Affairs Council 
on ‘Communist’ tickets, and have openly admitted they are 
communists at M.A.S. general meetings, without raising 


247 







a murmur of surprise. If Monash students had not 
fought the University authorities, they would not have 
hesitated to openly introduce regulations excluding 
students with political records. This was done at Melbourne 
University, with its relatively quiescent student population 
(until recently), and a number of former Monash and La 
Trobe students were actually excluded. Similar moves at 
La Trobe were defeated by students in 1971, in the same 
way as at Monash — by mass struggle. 

So much has Monash become a safe base, and student 
political action become a threat, thpt extreme right-wing 
groups outside the University have taken the role of 
attempting to crush student radicals. The attack on stu¬ 
dents is now headed by the D.L.P. and its guiding hand, 
the National Civic Council (N.C.C.). The N.C.C. plan 
was outlined in the May, 1971 edition of Catholic 
Worker, which described a paper presented at a confer¬ 
ence of the N.C.C. Extension Committee advocating the 
setting-up of small (10-15 members) ‘Peace with Free¬ 
dom’ groups on campus, each with an adult staff counter¬ 
part and representative on the University Councils to put 
pressure on Vice-Chancellors, Dependent upon the N.C.C. 
for support, these groups would endeavour to isolate and 
discredit members of the left. 

REBELLION TO REVOLUTION 

So the cycle continues. Students are repressed, and 
rebel again. Increasing numbers are becoming radicalized 
by this process, which continues because of the funda¬ 
mental contradictions in Australian capitalist society. Many 
students now simply do not want to serve capitalism, a 
system whose economic base is exploitation, whose driving 
force is aggression (politely called ‘competition’), whose 
social manifestation is alienation, and whose international 
structure is imperialism. The exploitation of workers, 
coloured races, women and students exists because the 
ruling class must exploit in order to survive as rulers. As 
the chains of oppression become clear for each group, the 
struggles for liberation become broader and the awareness 
of the need for a socialist society emerges. But the 
capitalist State which relies for its existence on servile 


248 


workers, passive women, obedient students and teachers 
who will perpetuate the authoritarian class hierarchy of 
society, crushes ruthlessly any opposition to it, and these 
groups must unite and resist this resolutely. The oppressed 
will only be liberated when the oppressors are overthrown 
— by revolution. The fight for revolution will be hard, it 
will be long, but it will be successful. The struggle of the 
students at Monash University is part of that fight. 


249 











Glossary of Terms, Cliches, 
Slogans, etc. 

Academic Freedom: 

Cliche used to mean ‘freedom for Academics’; the 
others don’t count! 

Admin (The Administration): 

Refers to ‘those senior members of the University 
community’, such as the Vice-Chancellor, the 
Academic Registrar, the seven Deans, the Professorial 
Board and their various colleagues, cohorts, and 
lackeys who run Monash using power derived directly 
from the University Act and the State Government. 
It does not refer to ordinary administrative or 
academic staff who merely work for Admin. The 
term is used as shorthand by students when referring 
to decisions that may be officially made by Council, 
the Professorial Board, a sub-committee, an ad hoc 
special committee, a faculty, a department of prac¬ 
tically any other ‘front’ Admin can think up, but 


251 








which carries those characteristics and ‘authority’ that 
mark it out as emanating from the inner circle. 

Administration Building: 

(a) The University Offices were called the ‘Adminis¬ 
tration Building’ until the end of 1967 when the 
name was changed. The original name, however, 
has stuck; 

(b) also named ‘Bullshit Castle’ by the late Prof. Jock 
Marshall; 

(c) also commonly known as the ‘Fortress’ during 

1970 when it was sealed off from the rest of the 
University by guards, special locks, double doors 
and identity checks. 

A.E. (The Administrative Executive of M.A.S.): 

An administrative committee of seven elected 
students whose role is to carry out decisions of 
General Meetings of students, and to publicize and 
call General Meetings of students. It consists of a 
chairman, secretary, treasurer, public relations officer, 
Australian Union of Students secretary and two mem¬ 
bers without portfolio. The A.E. is not supposed to 
have any representation role or power to make policy 
decisions. 

Community of Scholars: 

Current usage aptly defined by Prof. Street, Chair¬ 
man of Dept, of Physics as a place where ‘the staff 
have a right to teach, and the students have a right 
to learn’. 

C. O.R. (Committee of Representatives: 

A loose M.A.S. committee of all the student rep¬ 
resentatives on University Committees, such as the 
Catering committee, and Car-parking committee. It 
meets about once a term. 

D. L.P. Club: 

It sometimes calls itself the Monash Democrats, or 
Democratic Labor Club and adheres to the general 
line of the extra university extreme right-wing Nat¬ 
ional Civic Council, run by Santamaria. This very 
small group manages to make a very loud noise. It 
publishes ‘Free Speech’ on a black and white letter¬ 
head identical in design to ‘Liberty’ at La Trobe, 
‘Radical’ at Melbourne, and ‘Democrat’ at Sydney as 


252 


well as various other dishonestly named rags at 
campuses around Australia, which carry nationally 
syndicated lies on events at other Universities and 
which are published with the same style, the same 
politics. It is quite fascinating that the main thesis of 
this group is that the left is manipulated from outside! 

Discipline Statute: 

(a) In a free and democratic institution like a uni¬ 
versity there is a mutual atmosphere of respect 
between all members of the ‘community of 
scholars’. Of course this does not apply to 
students and they are ‘kept in line’ by a Discipline 
Statute. At present any action deemed to be ‘Mis¬ 
conduct’ by the Deans who comprise the Dis¬ 
cipline Committee is punishable by fines, exclusion 
or both. 

(b) A statute whereby students, professors and staff 
alike are forbidden to occupy buildings, or disobey 
reasonable orders of professors or other members 
of staff. 

Duress: 

When Admin is forced to change its actions by the 
University Community. 

Intimidation: 

Carrying resolutions beginning with ‘we demand’. 

‘I will not negotiate under duress’: 

Students: ‘Re-instate the expelled students.’ 

Matheson: ‘Leave the building.’ 

Students: ‘Re-instate the expelled students.’ 
Matheson: ‘Leave the building.’ 

Students then leave the building. 

Students: ‘Will you re-instate the expelled students?’ 
Matheson: ‘No.’ 

liberal (Note the small T): 

A common political individual found on campus 
whose position is well defined by American folk- 
singer Phil Ochs to be: ‘Someone ten degress to the 
left of centre in good times and ten degrees to the 
right of centre when it affects him personally’. 

Limits of Protest: 

The point beyond which protest becomes effective. 


253 











M.A.S. (Monash Association of Students): 

An organization which has served the students since 
mid 1968. The controlling body of M.A.S. is the 
General Meeting of Students which is open to all 
students at Monash. A General Meeting may be called 
by a petition of 2% of the students or by one of the 
M.A.S. committees, and must have a quorum of 5% 
of students or 6 % for a special meeting (with less 
than seven days’ notice). The committees that serve 
the M.A.S. General Meetings are A.E., P.A.C., and 
C.O.R. 

Moderate: 

A right-winger who moderates his views in order to 
gain credence. When speaking at M.A.S. meetings he 
will support a principle that he opposes in order to 
later oppose the action over that principle. 

Monash Labor Club: 

(now Worker Student Alliance — W.S.A.): 

A band of anarchistic agitators (‘Herald’), communis¬ 
tic in their sympathies, many alien in their origins, 
depriving good Australians of their rightful place 
in University (‘Gippsland Times’). This group of 
‘long-haired, uncouth, unwashed, uncultured rat¬ 
bags’ (State Parliament) forms the local cell of the 
International - Bolshevik - Zionist - Fluoridasitionist- 
Conspiracy, dedicated to fighting against Truth, 
Justice and the American Way. 

Neutral University: 

Where left-wing views are neutralized. 

New Left (at Monash): 

Students who in the face of a blatantly repressive act 
by Admin sit in the coffee lounge during an M.A.S. 
meeting lamenting the crazy tactics of the Labor Club 
‘adventurists’ outside and deploring their lack of intel¬ 
lectuality. They are sometimes lured out of the coffee 
lounge when they notice that the coffee lounge is 
otherwise empty because everyone else in the Uni¬ 
versity is outside supporting the ‘crazy tactics’. They 
have consistently failed to provide a left alternative 
to the Labor Club.. 


254 



Ordinary Decent Student: 

It is written in the Monash Statutes, handed down 
to us by our forefathers and their forefathers, that on 
an appointed day, the Ordinary Decent Students will 
phoenix-like rise up and, surmounting all obstacles, 
under the leadership of a revived S.R.C., drive out 
the evil triffids which have sprung up all round us 
and their fire-breathing M.A.S. majority, and restore 
the Monash Campus to a pinnacle of civilisation and 
a place of reasoned discourse, peace, calm and steril¬ 
ity. Legend hath it that if the Ordinary Decent 
Students are summoned without due rites and rituals, 
and the triffids get amongst them, then they will turn 
chameleon-like into left-wing ratbags. 

P.A.C. (The Public Affairs Committee): 

A representative body of fifteen students directly 
elected on political platforms. The role of P.A.C. is 
to put issues before M.A.S. meetings which then 
form M.A.S. policy. P.A.C. then publicizes the policy 
and organizes action to gain acceptance for it. 
Professor: 

A god-like figure who, because of his enormous 
responsibilities in running the department, cannot be 
subjected to popular vote. In other words, his 
responsibilities preclude him from being responsible 
to the staff and students who are affected by his 
decisions. 

Professorial Board: 

Where the professors discuss their latest overseas 
trips, matters of academic policy, and how to best 
ignore students. 

Proper Channel: 

(a) ‘Students have the right to dissent but not to 
choose the means of dissent.’ (Professor Manton’s 
summing up of the crisis at the end of 1970.) 

(b) One through which Admin can escape when 
necessary. 

Proper Procedure: 

See the Assistant Comptroller and then see the Comp¬ 
troller who will refer you to the Traffic Committee. 
Then see the V.C., who will say it is a matter for 
the P.B. They will forward the notice to Council. 


255 














They will tell you to see the Assistant Comptroller. 
Then take direct action. 

Print: 

An unscrupulous Labor Club broadsheet that from 
time reveals information that Admin wanted to keep 
under the carpet. (See 'Sound'). 

Reasoned Discourse: 

We intend to ignore what you say but we will defend 
unto death your right to say it . . . We will even go 
so far as to alter the wording of our proposals if you 
convince us that your wording will more efficiently 
implement our ideas. 

Reasonable Order: 

Any order made for the purpose of subsequent dis¬ 
ciplinary procedures. 

Referendum: 

(a) M.A.S.: Device used by the right-wing for delay¬ 
ing a decision by a M.A.S. General Meeting and 
hopefully defeating it by getting students who 
have not heard debate on the issue to vote against 
the decision. 

(b) Admin: A brilliant strategic innovation hit on by 
Dr. Matheson in 1970 to gain a few days time 
and lose all credibility. 

Scholarship: 

(a) Device to help under-privileged middle class 
Public School boys to university. 

(b) The term was overheard in a discussion between 
a student and a Vice-Chancellor (V.C.). 

Student: ‘The working class children can’t get to 
university.’ 

V.C.: ‘Let them win scholarships.’ 

S.N.C. (Student Negotiating Committee): 

Committee of students set up by a Student General 
Meeting to negotiate ad nauseum with Admin over 
the Discipline Statute. 

Sound: 

An unscrupulous Admin broadsheet that from time 
to time reveals information that Admin should want 
to keep under the carpet. (See Print). 


256 


S.R.C. (The Students Representative Council): 

Until mid-1968, students managed their affairs 
through a supposedly ‘representative’ council of 
twenty-eight students, some of whom were elected at 
faculty elections and some of whom were elected at 
general elections. The S.R.C. built up an enormously 
complicated and unwieldly system of committees and 
executives; the main two being the ‘Resident Execu¬ 
tive’ and the ‘General Executive’. 

Student Money: 

The University collects a Union fee from all students 
at the beginning of the year. This is used to finance 
the running of the Union, the clubs and M.A.S. How¬ 
ever, students do not control this money. 

Triffids: 

A term used by Dr. Matheson to describe those 
(radical) students who refuse to accept their presented 
role as vegetables, providing a yield of ‘high-grade 
oil’ for their masters. Student rebellion is, for him, a 
‘nightmare’. 

To make a series of visits to Universities in 
different parts of the world in 1969 is to undertake 
a journey which has some of the nightmare qualities 
of science fiction: the triffids are springing up every¬ 
where and no-one knows how to keep them in check, 
still less how to cut them down. But this is not a 
nightmare, alas, from which one can awaken into the 
clear morning of a sane and orderly world. Every¬ 
where the harsh reality is of Universities under attack, 
in chaos, closed, or open only when under police 
protection. Everywhere the reality is of student rebel¬ 
lion, sometimes violent, sometimes encouraged or 
even stimulated by a minority of academics, not 
infrequently aggravated by real deficiencies in the 
system. 

J. A. L. Matheson , July, 1969. 

The triffids are grotesque and dangerous plants, 
over seven feet tall, originally cultivated for their 
yield of high-grade oil. So long as conditions give the 
mastery to their human directors, they are a valuable 
asset to mankind. But when a sudden universal 


257 








I disaster turns those conditions upside down, then the 
triffids, seizing their opportunity, become an active 
V and dreadful menace. 

» John Wyndham, The Day of the Triffids. 

University Council: 

The controlling body of the University, consisting 
mainly of ‘highly influential and highly competent 
industrialists and businessmen’ as specific representa¬ 
tives of industrial, agricultural and commercial inter¬ 
ests, and Parliament, co-opted members, or elected 
by the faculties. Reactionary, out of touch with 
University affairs, this ‘lay’ body is supposed to repre¬ 
sent the wide range of community interests. In fact 
it represents the capitalist ruling class. Only two 
students and one member of the non-professorial 
teaching staff are on Council. 

Unrepresentative of Student opinion: 

(a) If S.R.C. in existence, ‘unrepresentative’ is used 
to mean ‘not the opinion of the majority of 
students at a General meeting’. 

(b) If M.A.S. in existence, Admin uses the term to 
mean ‘not the opinion of a representative elected 
group’. 

Violence: 

The failure to continue endlessly with reasoned dis¬ 
course, as above; often qualified by ‘brute’ or ‘mind¬ 
less’, and includes sitting, standing, walking and 
sometimes all three. 

Voetsak: 

An Afrikaan word meaning (less politely) ‘go away’. 
The Springboks were frequently greeted with this cry 
during their Australian ‘tour’. 


258 










PUBLISHED BY THE DIPLOMAT 


Edited by Michael Hyde 


Possibly one of the most dynamic books to have 
arisen from the present student movement, It Is 
Right To Rebel is a work of great importance. 


Monash University has a world-wide reputation 
as being Australia's radical campus. 


But what do the students themselves think? 


This book was written by students involved in 
the conflicts at Monash over the past five years. 

Unlike other works on the subject, this study 
does not abuse nor condemn the students for 
their political outlook and activities. 

It is a sympathetic view, explaining why and how 
Australian students, are rebelling and what they 
hope to achieve. 







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